Gen. Jose Ornella, head of Venezuela's presidential guard said that the 58-year-old socialist leader in his last minutes expressed his desire to live for the sake of his country, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
"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,'' Ornella said.
Chavez, who led the country for more than 14 years died Tuesday after battling an unspecified cancer in pelvic region. The government had said the socialist leader died of a severe respiratory infection – a second such infection he reportedly contracted in past three months following his fourth cancer surgery in Havana, Dec.11.
Ornella said he was with Chavez in his final moments and had spent the last two years with the 58-year-old president. He said that Chavez’s cancer was in advanced stage when he died, but refused to give specific details of the illness, according to the AP report.
The Venezuelan government had maintained secrecy on the health of the ailing president, who had won re-election to a third presidential term Oct. 7, last year. The government had earlier said the president suffered from a cancer in pelvic region and was taking treatment – including surgeries for removing the tumor in Cuba, but did not reveal what kind of cancer he had or specify the details of his surgeries and treatment.
He had not been seen or heard in public since he underwent his fourth cancer surgery in Havana Dec. 11 last year, triggering speculation that he was dead long before the official statement of his death was announced.
Venezuela declared a week of mourning Wednesday and announced that Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez named as his successor, will lead the country until the new elections, which must be held within 30 days.