By FABIOLA SANCHEZ and FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Venezuela’s vice president announced that President Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday, ending 14 years of rule by the firebrand socialist but leaving his party firmly in control of the nation.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that Chavez died “after battling a tough illness for nearly two years.”
The death apparently sets up a presidential election to replace Chavez, whose illness prevented him from taking the oath of office for the term to which he was re-elected last year.
Under the constitution, the head of Congress, Diosdado Cabello, would assume the interim presidency.
The announcement came just hours after Maduro announced the government had expelled two U.S. diplomats from the country.
Maduro also said “we have no doubt” that Chavez’s cancer, which was first diagnosed in June 2011, was induced by foul play by “the historical enemies of our…
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