“A government spokesman had earlier said that the far-left leader, who has held control in the country for 14 years, was in a ‘very delicate’ condition in hospital.
The news comes just hours after Mr Maduro announced that two U.S. Embassy officials were expelled for meeting with military officers and planning to destabilise the country.
Promising that troops will safeguard the sovereignty of the country, he said Chavez had died after ‘battling a tough illness for nearly two years’.
Maduro is Chavez’s self-anointed successor and has been taking on a larger role since the socialist leader urged Venezuelans to choose him as president before disappearing in early December to undergo a fourth round of cancer surgery in Cuba.
“Taking a page out of Mr. Chávez’s time-tested playbook, Mr. Maduro warned in a lengthy televised speech that the United States was seeking to destabilize the country and the government expelled two American military attachés, accusing one of seeking to recruit Venezuelan military personnel. He called on Venezuelans to unite as he raised the specter of foreign intervention.
Mr. Chávez long accused the United States of trying to undermine or even assassinate him, using Washington as a foil to build support or distract attention from deeply rooted problems at home, like high inflation and soaring crime.
American officials had hoped to improve relations under Mr. Maduro, with informal talks taking place last year. But more recently, the government has appeared to shift into campaign mode, taking sweeping aim at the Venezuelan opposition and playing up its real or alleged ties to the United States for political gain.
“A U.S. Embassy official expelled from Venezuela for allegedly spying on the military is en route back to the United States, according to a Defense Department spokesman.
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday the country had expelled the American Air Force attache for meeting with military officers and planning to destabilize the country.
Embassy spokesman Greg Adams identified the attache as David Delmonaco.
He said he did not immediately know Delmonaco’s rank.
Foreign Minister Elias Jaua also announced the expulsion of a second U.S. official, also a U.S. Air Force attache.
Maduro spoke hours after the government said Chavez was in “very delicate” health after undergoing cancer surgery in December.