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Nicolas Maduro, loyal spokesman, to succeed Chavez


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"He’s always been someone who is easy to talk to," said McCoy, director of the Americas program at the Carter Center, which helped the Organization of American States facilitate dialogue between the government and opposition after a 2002 coup that briefly ousted Chavez.

Maduro was always willing "to discuss the issues, and I think that’s really important going forward for Venezuela," McCoy said.

At a glance

Venezuelans in U.S. hopeful of change

Venezuelans living in the United States are reacting with cautious optimism that there will be change in their homeland following President Hugo Chavez’s death.

In the Miami suburb of Doral, Venezuelans watched on television as the country’s vice president, Nicolas Maduro, announced Chavez had died Tuesday. At a popular restaurant, one person cheered at the news, but the rest watched quietly and refrained from any celebration.

Doral has the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the U.S. Dora’s mayor and police chief prepared a security and contingency plan in the event of Chavez’s death. Many Venezuelans are expected to gather at restaurants and meeting spots in Miami, though few people immediately showed up.

There are nearly 190,000 Venezuelans in the United States. Many are strongly anti-Chavez.

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Before Chavez underwent his latest operation in December, he explained why he had chosen Maduro:

"He’s one of the young leaders with the greatest ability to continue, if I’m unable to — God knows what he does — if I’m unable to continue with his firm hand, with his gaze, with his heart of a man of the people, with his gift for people, with his intelligence, with the international recognition he’s earned, with his leadership, leading the presidency."

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Associated Press writers Fabiola Sanchez and Ian James contributed to this report.




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