Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died after a battle with cancer, according to the country’s vice president. He was 58.
Chavez had recently returned to Venezuela following cancer surgery and more than two months of treatment in Cuba.
Late last month, he posted messages on his Twitter account, saying: “We’ve arrived once again in our Venezuelan homeland. Thank you, my God!! Thank you, beloved nation!! We will continue our treatment here.”
A photograph of him smiling, flanked by his two daughters, also emerged online this month.
A former military officer, Chavez rose to power with socialist reforms in the 1990s, adhering to his own brand of political ideology known as Bolivarianism. On the world stage, he remained a controversial figure throughout his political career.
Chavez was born July 28, 1954 into a working class family of schoolteachers. He was raised by his grandmother in Sabaneta, Barinas.
During his military career, Chavez developed his leftist, socialist ideologies that would form the foundation of his presidency.
After a failed 1992 military coup d’etat attempt with his Bolivarian Revolutionary Army and subsequent imprisonment, Chavez found support for his socialist movement and went on to establish the Fifth Republic Movement, a political party which would see Chavez elected president of Venezuela in 1998.
During his presidency, Chavez implemented sweeping constitutional reforms, and placed more control over the country’s oil industry. His political party would come to be known as the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
Amid burgeoning unrest in 2002, opposition groups attempted to remove Chavez from office. A 2004 referendum to recall Chavez failed.
Chavez was an outspoken critic of the United States’ foreign policy and capitalist countries, for which he drew ire and condemnation throughout his political career.
In 2011, Chavez confirmed that he was being treated for cancer. After seeking treatment in Cuba intermittently, Chavez’ health declined in December.