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Chavez dead, Venezuela deploys forces

06 March 2013, 08:00

Caracas - Venezuela deployed its army and police in the wake of Tuesday's announcement of President Hugo Chavez's death, as the nation entered a period of political uncertainty and national mourning.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in a nationwide television broadcast that a special deployment was "at this very moment" being rolled out "to accompany and protect our people and guarantee the peace".

Chavez, 58, died of cancer late on Tuesday afternoon.

During more than 14 years in office, Chavez routinely challenged the status quo at home and internationally.

He polarised Venezuelans with his confrontational and domineering style, yet was also a masterful communicator and strategist who tapped into Venezuelan nationalism to win broad support, particularly among the poor.

Chavez used his country's vast oil wealth to launch social programmes that include state-run food markets, new public housing, free health clinics and education programmes.

Poverty declined during Chavez's presidency amid a historic boom in oil earnings, but critics said he failed to use the windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars to develop the country's economy.

Chavez burst into public view in 1992 as a paratroop commander leading a military rebellion that brought tanks to the presidential palace.

When the coup collapsed, Chavez was allowed to make a televised statement in which he declared that his movement had failed "for now".

The speech, and those two defiant words, launched his career, searing his image into the memory of Venezuelans.



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