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Venezuelan folk singer Simon Diaz dies at 85

FILE - In this April 19, 2005 file photo,Venezuelan folk musician Simon Diaz listens during an interview in New York. According to his daughter Bettsimar Diaz, the 85-year-old musician, actor and director died after a long undisclosed illness in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

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FILE - In this April 19, 2005 file photo,Venezuelan folk musician Simon Diaz listens during an interview in New York. According to his daughter Bettsimar Diaz, the 85-year-old musician, actor and director died after a long undisclosed illness in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan folk singer-songwriter Simon Diaz has died at age 85, prompting an outpouring of mourning in the country that considered the man known as "Uncle Simon" to be a national treasure.

His daughter Bettsimar Diaz confirmed his death on her Twitter account, but gave no details.

Diaz's most often-performed song is "Caballo Viejo," which translates as "Old Horse." It was one of more than 200 songs he composed while recording 70 albums. His popularity grew as he hosted a children's television show and appeared in five films.

Both the leftist government and its opponents in the bitterly divided nation paid homage to the singer on Wednesday.

Education Minister Hector Rodriguez says a song in honour of Diaz will be performed in all Venezuelan schools on Thursday.

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