A close associate claimed that Chavez died during a massive heart attack...and suffered greatly.
Reportedly...his last words were...'I do not want to die. Please don't let me die'
Others said he died of respiratory complications...that the cancer had spread to his lungs.
There was jubilation in Florida..and widespread lamentation in Venezuela...after VP Nicolas Maduro somberly announced Chavez's passing on national TV.
Maduro even accused USA agents of infecting Chavez...and expelled 2 military attaches.
Condolences poured-in from around the globe...and especially Latin America...where his influence...and economic support were profound.
His body lay in state at a Caracas military academy...with more than 2 million having already paid their brief respects.
Some Chavez supporters want him buried next to his hero...'liberator' Simon Bolivar...in a $70 million mausoleum now under construction.
His own 2009 wish was to be buried in his rural home town of Sabaneta in Barinas state.
But acting President Maduro declared that Hugo's body will embalmed...and permanently displayed...under glass...' for eternity'...like Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
Chavez had increasingly run Venezuela as an autocracy since his first election in 1998... eroding democracy there...by punishing opponents...while stacking the courts and important state oil company with staunch supporters.
He dominated the nation's media...intimidating critics...and enjoyed tweaking the USA by supporting rogue world leaders.
But many...especially the poor...loved him...as he greatly increased state support for them...and it fed his personality cult.
However...foreign capital fled after too many nationalizations...while inflation, corruption and crime surged...and infrastructure worsened.
He financed increased state support by borrowing $80 billion...mostly from China, Russia and Iran.
Ironically...Cuban dictator Fidel Castro...now in his 88th year...who was Chavez's mentor and father figure...has outlived him.
Chavez's body will lie in state for 7 more days...during national mourning...with all schools closed.
The military is still deployed to 'guarantee peace.'
VP Maduro has been sworn in and will run the nation until a new election is to be held...probably in 30 days.
: Chavez was a larger than life character...a demagogue with the often quick wit of a comic. Here are some quotes.
Speaking at the UN about President George W. Bush: 'Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.'
And also about Bush in 2006...'You are a coward, a killer, a [perpetrator of] genocide, an alcoholic, a drunk, a liar, an immoral person, Mr Danger. You are the worst, Mr. Danger. The worst of this planet…A psychologically sick man, I know it.'