Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez passed away on Tuesday afternoon following an extended battle with cancer and complications that included a severe respiratory infection. Chávez’s death was announced by Vice President Nicolas Maduro on national television, according to the Associated Press. The populist leader embraced wealth redistribution, land reform, and centralized socialism domestically, while embracing an anti-American foreign policy that bought the country closer to Cuba and Iran. Thanks to Venezuela’s oil wealth, Chávez had a towering influence over business and commerce in South America.
During a 2010 financial crisis, Venezuelans faced jail time for tweeting about banking problems; the country has an extremely robust business sector that is among Latin America’s strongest.