United Nations/ Brasilia: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, while President Dilma Rousseff hailed him as a 'great Latin American' and 'a friend of the Brazilian people.'

The leftist leader died on Tuesday at the age of 58 after a long fight with cancer.

Hailing his work on behalf of his country's poor and  his support of Colombia's peace process, the UN chief said: "The secretary general was saddened by the death of His Excellency Mr Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,"

"President Chavez spoke to the challenges and aspirations of the most vulnerable Venezuelans,” Ban's office said in a statement after Venezuela announced Chavez's death.

"He provided decisive impetus for new regional integration movements, based on an eminently Latin American vision, while showing solidarity toward other nations in the
hemisphere," the statement said.

Ban pledged that the United Nations would continue to work with Venezuela "in support of its development and prosperity" following the end of Chavez's 14 years of rule.

Chavez death 'irreparable loss'

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called Chavez's death "an irreparable loss".

"We recognise a great leader, an irreparable loss and above all a friend of Brazil, a friend of the Brazilian people," she said before leading a minute of silence at a meeting with rural leaders in Brasilia.

Her predecessor, ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, meanwhile expressed sadness over the death and recalled the Venezuelan leader's struggle for a "more just world".

Rousseff also cancelled a trip that she was scheduled to make on Thursday to Argentina for talks with President Cristina Kirchner.

Chavez lost his battle with cancer earlier on Tuesday, plunging his divided oil-rich nation into an uncertain future.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who struggled to hold back tears as he announced Chavez's death, said the government had deployed the military and police "to accompany and protect our people and guarantee the peace."


Latest News from World News desk