Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the firebrand socialist who led the nation for 14 years, has died after battling cancer, according to a government report.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro's voice broke and tears ran down his face as he publicly announced on Tuesday that Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. local time 3:55 p.m EST "after battling hard against an illness over nearly two years."
As he announced the death, Maduro called on Venezuelans to be "dignified inheritors of the giant man" Chavez was.
"Let there be no weakness, no violence," Maduro said. "Let there be no hate. In our hearts there should only be one sentiment: Love. Love, peace and discipline."
All across downtown Caracas, shops and restaurants begin closing and Venezuelans hustled for home, some even breaking into a run.
Maduro called on Venezuelans to convene in the capital's Bolivar Square, named for the 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar, who Chavez claimed as his chief inspiration.
The vice president also called on the opposition to respect "the people's pain."
"Those who never supported the comandante Hugo Chavez, respect the pain of the people," said Maduro. "This is the moment to think of our families, of our country."
Chavez leaves behind a socialist political movement firmly in control of the nation, but with some doubt about how a new leadership will be formed.