Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, CNBC reports.
Chavez governed the oil-rich country for 14 years, staying in office through months of declining health and chemotherapy treatments in Cuba. He was reelected in 2012, but missed his own inauguration due to treatment.
Chavez first rose to prominence in the early 90s as a military officer behind a failed overthrow of then-president Carlos Andres Perez. He was elected into office in 1999. During his rule over the country, the populist Chavez became known as fiercely anti-American and a champion for the poor.
Chavez's death was announced Tuesday by Venezuela's vice president Nicolas Maduro in a speech delivered on the country's state-run television station. In a speech just hours earlier announcing Chavez's health taking a turn for the worse, Maduro placed the blame for Chavez's cancer on "historic enemies" like the United States, ABC News reports.
In a statement, President Obama acknowledged the challenges facing Venezuela in the absence of its long-time leader, CBS reports.
"As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history," Obama said, "the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights."