Chavez's Last Words: 'Please Don't Let Me Die'

Venezuelan leader died of a heart attack: official

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 7, 2013 7:30 AM CST | Updated Mar 7, 2013 7:40 AM CST

(Newser) – Hugo Chavez died of a massive heart attack, the head of his presidential guard said last night, and with his last words the Venezuelan leader expressed his desire to live. "He couldn't speak but he said it with his lips ... 'I don't want to die. Please don't let me die,' because he loved his country, he sacrificed himself for his country," Gen. Jose Ornella tells the AP, adding that Chavez was in the advanced stages of cancer when he died. But Ornella also echoed suspicions that Chavez had been poisoned, noting that perhaps 50 years in the future we'll learn how "the hand of the enemy" was involved.

Poisoned or no, Chavez died with a net worth of $1 billion. Media outlets are focusing today on former VP Nicolas Maduro, who has been leading the country since Chavez's death. Maduro, Chavez's chosen successor, has been mimicking Chavez's speech patterns, clothes, and favored topics, and has been repeating the slogan "I am Chavez" to supporters, the New York Times reports. But "he can’t just stand there and say 'I am the Mini-Me of Chavez and now you have to follow me,'" notes one analyst. And many questions remain—particularly in the US—over what type of leader Maduro will be and what sort of relationship he'll have with the US if he wins the upcoming election (which he likely will, the LA Times reports).

A member of the presidential guard rides on a horse at the front of a procession carrying the body of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
A man holds up a photo of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez as he watches Chavez's coffin be paraded from the hospital where he died on Tuesday to a military academy, March 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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