CARACAS, Venezuela [Peter Paul Media] — President Hugo Chavez mouthed the words, “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die” in his final moments before suffering a heart attack and succumbing to cancer at the age of 58, the head of Venezuela’s presidential guard said Wednesday.
General Jose Ornella was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying the late leader suffered a massive heart attack and in his final moments, expressed his desire to stay alive. “He couldn’t speak but he said it with his lips: ‘I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die,’” Gen. Ornella said according to the AP.
“On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, after calling a meeting with the political and military leaders of the revolution, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced that President Hugo Chávez passed away at 4:25 in the afternoon,” said a statement from the Embassy of Venezuela to the U.S. in Washington, DC.
Chavez died at a military hospital outside Caracas—the Venezuelan capital— from pelvic cancer after 14 years in power as the country’s charismatic hero, acting President Nicolas Maduro said. Maduro was handpicked by Chavez and publicly designated him as successor in December.
Chavez’s body will be lying in state at the Caracas military academy until his funeral Friday, news footage showed. He last spoke to Venezuelans on December 8, three days before his final surgery.
It was his fourth surgery for cancer in addition to routine radiation and chemotherapy treatments. The former president was battling cancer since June 2011, visiting Cuba on numerous occasions for treatment.
He most recently arrived back in Caracas on February 18 unexpectedly after being released from a Cuban hospital—managing to post two Twitter updates on the same day to his 4.1 million followers.