CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez died of a massive heart attack after great suffering and inaudibly mouthed his desire to live, the head of Venezuela's presidential guard said late Wednesday.
"He couldn't speak but he said it with his lips ... 'I don't want to die. Please don't let me die,' because he loved his country, he sacrificed himself for his country," Gen. Jose Ornella told The Associated Press.
The general said he spent the last two years with Chavez, including his final moments, as Venezuela's president of 14 years battled an unspecified cancer in the pelvic region.
Ornella spoke to the AP outside the military academy where Chavez's body lay in state. He said Chavez's cancer was very advanced when death came but gave no details.
Ornella did not respond when asked if the cancer had spread to Chavez's lungs.
The government announced on the eve of Chavez's death that he had suffered a severe new respiratory infection. It was the second such infection reported by officials after Chavez underwent his fourth cancer surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11.
Venezuelan authorities have not said what kind of cancer Chavez had or specified exactly where tumors were removed.
During the first lung infection, near the end of December, doctors implanted a tracheal tube to ease Chavez's breathing, but breathing insufficiency persisted and worsened, the government said.