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Obama on Chavez: US supports Venezuelan people

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March 5, 2013 06:33 PM EST | AP


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is affirming American support for the Venezuelan people and a constructive relationship with their government after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Obama says in a statement that Chavez's death marks a challenging time for Venezuela. He says the U.S. is committed to promoting democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law.

Venezuela's vice president announced that Chavez died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. Chavez, a fiery populist, led Venezuela for 14 years.

Chavez's inner circle has long claimed the United States was behind a failed a 2002 attempt to overthrow him, and he has frequently played the anti-American card to stir up support. The announcement of Chavez's death came hours after the government said it had expelled two U.S. diplomats from Venezuela.