On March 5, 2013, in a military hospital in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez succumbed after a long battle with cancer and died at 58. He leaves behind a divided Venezuela where some desperately mourn his passing and others are hopeful that it's an opportunity for a new political future for the country.
Over three terms, Chavez loomed large in domestic and international politics. The fiery Venezuelean leader nationalized the oil industry and used profits to undertake massive public programs at home, in an effort to aid the nation's poor and potentially secure their political support, and abroad, he made common cause with the Islamic Republican of Iran and frequently denounced the United States in verbose, hours-long speeches. He was sometimes accused of setting up the United States as a straw man for causing Venezuela's troubles (and even his illness) as a way to distract from rising crime and government mismanagement. But regardless, the past is past.
"The Chavez-less era begins," read a front-page headline in Caracas's El Universal newspaper, following Chavez's death.
The Venezuelan constitution mandates that an election be held in the next 30 days (Chavez was just elected to a new term) and the vice president, Nicolas Marduro, will be the interim president. Marduro is Chavez's chosen successor and will be a favorite going into the elections. His major opponent will likely be opposition-candidate Henrique Capriles, who ran against Chavez in the previous election. The date of the election hasn't been set at time of writing, but we'll be bring you live updates on the candidates, polls, and election results as soon as we have them.