Venezuelan officials have yet to say what type of cancer he suffered from, but details were emerging of the former paratrooper's final hours.
The head of Venezuela's presidential guard, Gen. Jose Ornella, told the AP late Wednesday that Chavez died of a massive heart attack after great suffering.
"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," said Ornella, who said he was with the socialist president at the moment of his death Tuesday.
In Washington, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. hoped the upcoming vote would be held on a level playing field, and lamented the expulsion of the American officials."We are obviously disappointed by these false accusations levied against our embassy officials," Nuland said. "This is part of a tired playbook of alleging foreign interference as a political football in internal Venezuelan politics." ___ Associated Press writers Fabiola Sanchez, Frank Bajak and Christopher Toothaker contributed to this report. ___ Paul Haven on Twitter: www.twitter.com/paulhaven