Hugo Chávez
Venezuelan President
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
Biography
Hugo Chávez's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Hugo Chávez from around the web
The Reality-Television President
Wall Street Journal - 6 days
Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez almost started a war during his weekly program.
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Wall Street Journal article
Can a Chilean outsider revive Latin America's ailing left?
Huffington Post - 10 days
Senator Alejandro Guillier inside the Chilean congress in Valparaiso, Chile. Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters Cristóbal Bellolio, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez According to popular wisdom, if a government's approval ratings are in the low 20s with an election around the corner, odds are that the ruling party will not retain power; people will vote for change. But popular wisdom is not always right. And this is the hope of the Chilean left. Just 18 months after winning the 2013 presidential election with 62% of votes, President Michelle Bachelet suffered an unprecedented political breakdown. Public support for both her and her Nueva Mayoría administration - a coalition of the Socialist, Christian Democrat and Communist parties, among others - fell to the low 20s by mid-2015, where it has remained since. For the November 2017 election, this centre-left coalition had originally set its sights on Ricardo Lagos, a former president who built his political career in the 1980s ...
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Huffington Post article
Trump's Economy Is Likely To Look Great For A Bit But Fail In The Long Run
Huffington Post - 12 days
SANTIAGO, Chile (Project Syndicate) – Now that populists are coming to power in the West, a conflict over intellectual ownership of their approach is brewing. Writers like John Judis claim that 19th-century Americans invented political populism, with its anti-elitist stance and inflammatory rhetoric. Argentines, who gave the world uber-populist Juan Domingo Perón, or Brazilians, who brought us Getúlio Vargas, might beg to differ. Yet there can be no disagreement that Latin Americans have been the longest and best practitioners of economic populism. In the 20th century, Perón and Vargas, plus Alan García in Peru (at least during his first term), Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Salvador Allende in Chile, and many others, engaged in trade protectionism, ran large budget deficits, overheated their economies, allowed inflation to rise and eventually suffered currency crises. In recent years, Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela took these policies to new lows. What should the ...
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Huffington Post article
Government By Outburst
Huffington Post - 13 days
The black-masked vandals who launched smoke bombs, smashed windows and set fires in Berkeley, California, the night of Wednesday, Feb. 1, share incendiary techniques with the Trump regime: They want to prevail by outbursts. Not to be outdone, that night, the Tweeter-in-Chief known as @realDonaldTrump tweeted: If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017  While arranging the deck chairs on board his Titanic administration, the Tweeter-in-Chief felt impelled to take the time to consign UC Berkeley to the Twitter hell where Lyin’ Ted, Khizr Kahn, Alicia Machado, Meryl Streep and CNN had already taken up their malevolent residence. And please note that, in the rancid spirit of fake news, Trump had the gall to accuse the university of “practic[ing] violence on innocent people” — this from a White House resident who ha ...
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Huffington Post article
Venezuela bans Hugo Chavez TV series
Yahoo News - 20 days
Venezuela has banned TV networks from broadcasting a new series on late president Hugo Chavez, calling the US-Colombian production an attack on the legacy of the charismatic socialist firebrand. "El Comandante," a 60-episode series on Chavez's life, premiered Monday night in Colombia. It is also due to air in seven other Latin American countries and the United States from Tuesday.
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Yahoo News article
Hugo Chavez returns to life in TV show criticized by allies
Yahoo News - 21 days
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The revolution will now be televised.
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Yahoo News article
Hugo Chávez was first tweeter-in-chief
CNN - 25 days
"Don't worry, I'll give it up after I'm president. We won't tweet anymore, I don't think. Not presidential."
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CNN article
For Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, A Second Life On The Small Screen
NPR - 27 days
A new TV series recounts the life of the late strongman — and suggests his rule laid the groundwork for the food shortages, hyperinflation and political polarization plaguing Venezuela today. (Image credit: Manuel Rodriguez/Sony Pictures)
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NPR article
Venezuela Faces Uncertain Future As ‘Failing State’ Enters Second Year Of Economic Crisis
Huffington Post - about 1 month
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Amid widespread poverty, worsening food shortages and tumbling oil prices, socialist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has declared a sixth consecutive 60-day period of national economic emergency, stretching the crisis into a second year and further extending his government’s expansive decree powers. Blaming the nation’s financial woes on low oil prices and a U.S.-led plot to topple his regime, the embattled leader announced Sunday that his administration w ...
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Huffington Post article
Rex Tillerson: a secretary of state pick with a long, troubled history in Venezuela
Huffington Post - about 1 month
ExxonMobil and Venezuela have been spatting over oil for decades. Reuters Sary Levy-Carciente, Universidad Central de Venezuela and María Teresa Romero, Universidad Central de Venezuela If Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil and Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, is confirmed by the US congress, he has agreed to sever all ties with the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company. But of course that won't summarily erase the relationships he has built with leaders of oil-producing countries, which stand to influence his tenure. Tillerson has no experience in government, the military or as a public servant. But he nonetheless knows the world and is well-known on the international stage. Having worked his way up through different positions in Exxon since 1975, he became Chairman and CEO in 2006. This position provides a familiarity with international diplomacy, expertise in managing large operations, and skills negotiating with global leaders. ...
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Huffington Post article
El escándalo de la brasileña Odebrecht sepulta varios sueños en Venezuela
Wall Street Journal - about 2 months
El gobierno de Hugo Chávez otorgó a Odebrecht US$11.000 millones en contratos para construir comunas angroindustriales en áreas remotas y conectarlas al corazón del país mediante grandes puentes y ferrocarriles. Sin embargo, pocos de las decenas de proyectos adjudicados se hicieron realidad.
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Wall Street Journal article
In Venezuela, Christmas is a luxury few can afford
Huffington Post - about 2 months
Many Venezuelans won't be able to celebrate Christmas this year. Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters Miguel Angel Latouche, Universidad Central de Venezuela Caracas is not feeling the Christmas spirit. The city is desolate. Gone is the cosmopolitan rhythm that even until a few months ago has always characterised it. The city moves slowly, its stores abandoned, residents more focused on resolving basic necessities than with celebrating Christmastime. Buy a ham, make tamales, string up lights? Those rituals seem irrelevant to many. It's been a hard year for Venezuela. Hugo Chávez promised that his "21st Century Socialism" would be a luminous moment in human history and a solution to the troubles of the poor. But it more closely resembles the "Real Socialism" of the last century, with the government of Nicolas Maduro restricting individual liberties and turning citizens into clients of populism that looks everyday more like fascism. Scarcity itself has become a form of soc ...
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Huffington Post article
Weekend Roundup: Populists Grow Stronger Once in Power
Huffington Post - 3 months
Populists, caudillos and strongmen in power don’t fail at the outset, they gain strength. That is because their personalist rule delivers up front to the constituencies that brought them to the top, often challenging bothersome institutional constraints along the way. They worry about the consequences later. The real troubles begin when the consequences arrive, revealing how the short term has eaten the long term. Then the bad overtakes the good. As the classicist Phillip Freeman has written in The WorldPost, this has been true going back to Clodius in the Roman republic, whose popularity soared as he handed out free grain to the plebeians. But the divisive character of his mercurial rule drove the republic to the point of civil war and opened the way for the dictatorship of Caesar to restore order. In the 1950s in Argentina, Juan and Eva Peron fostered many programs to elevate the poor descamisados (shirtless ones) until corruption, debt and inflation overwhelmed any gains and th ...
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Huffington Post article
In intimate ally Venezuela, tears and cheers over Castro's death
Yahoo News - 3 months
By Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's ruling socialists mourned former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, while opposition hard-liners exulted over the death of a man they called a dictator who helped wreck their economy and whose country for years had an easy ride with subsidized oil. The two leftist Latin American governments became intimate allies under Castro and his younger disciple, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, a relationship buttressed by generous oil shipments from the OPEC country to the Communist-run island in return for thousands of Cuban doctors, teachers, sports trainers and security advisers. Venezuela used to send Cuba some 100,000 barrels of oil per day, but data seen by Reuters showed a 40 percent decline in crude shipments in the first half of the year compared with 2015 and that could fall further amid a production slump.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
Can The Venezuelan Economy Be Fixed?
Huffington Post - 4 months
The international media has provided a constant fusillade of stories and editorials (not always easily distinguished from each other) about the collapse of the Venezuelan economy for some time now. Shortages of food and medicine, hours-long lines for basic goods, incomes eroded by triple-digit inflation, and even food riots have dominated press reports. The conventional wisdom has a set of predictable narratives to explain the current economic mess. "Socialism" has failed ― never mind that the vast majority of jobs created during the Chávez years were in the private sector, and that the size of the state has been much smaller than in France. The whole experiment, it is said, was a failure from the beginning. Nationalizations, antibusiness policies, populist overspending during the years of high oil prices, and then the collapse of these oil prices since 2014 sealed Venezuela's fate. The downward spiral will continue until the chavistas are removed from power, either through elections ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Venezuelan legislature launches trial against Maduro
Yahoo News - 4 months
By Andrew Cawthorne and Eyanir Chinea CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly voted on Tuesday to open a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro for violating democracy, but the socialist government dismissed the move as meaningless. The OPEC member nation's political standoff has worsened since last week's suspension of an opposition push to hold a referendum to try to recall Maduro, 53. With that avenue closed, the opposition coalition has raised the stakes, using its power base in congress to begin legal action against Hugo Chavez's unpopular successor.
Article Link:
Yahoo News article
GOP Senator On Climate Change: 'Mankind Has Actually Flourished In Warmer Temperatures'
Huffington Post - 4 months
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Monday said he doesn’t think people should worry about finding solutions to climate change ― because historically, “civilization thrives” in warmer temperatures. “Climate has already changed, always will. I’m just not an alarmist. We will adapt,” Johnson told Wisconsin radio station WHBY. “How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it’s a little bit warmer.” Climate change has been described as one of the most urgent issues facing mankind, and scientists say immediate policy action is necessary to mitigate its effects. But you wouldn’t know it from the tone of Johnson’s remarks on Monday. “Obviously, man affects the environment, and we should do everything we can to maintain a clean environment, but you need an affluent society. You need a strong economy,” the senator said. “Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot with policies.” Johnson made a similarly dubious argument i ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Hugo Chávez
    FORTIES
  • 2013
    On 5 March 2013, Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced on state television that Chávez had died in a military hospital in Caracas at 16:25 VET (20:55 UTC).
    More Details Hide Details The Vice President said Chávez died "after battling a tough illness for nearly two years." According to the head of Venezuela's presidential guard, Chávez died from a massive heart attack, and his colon cancer was very advanced when he died. Gen. Jose Ornella said that near the end of his life Chávez could not speak aloud, but mouthed his last words: "Yo no quiero morir, por favor no me dejen morir" (I don't want to die. Please don't let me die). Chávez is survived by four children and four grandchildren. Alfredo Molero, then Minister of Defense, alleged that Chávez was poisoned or infected with a cancer virus by the U.S. government. A spokesman for the U.S State Department dismissed the claim as "absurd." His death triggered a constitutional requirement that a presidential election be called within 30 days.
    Chavez's Vice President, Maduro, was elected president on April 14, 2013.
    More Details Hide Details The United States-based Time magazine included Hugo Chávez among their list of the world's 100 most influential people in 2005 and 2006, noting the spreading of his anti-globalization efforts and anti-US sentiment throughout Latin America. In a 2006 list compiled by the leftist British magazine New Statesman, he was voted eleventh in the list of "Heroes of our time". In 2010 the magazine included Chávez in its annual The World's 50 Most Influential Figures. His biographers Marcano and Tyszka believed that within only a few years of his presidency, he "had already earned his place in history as the president most loved and most despised by the Venezuelan people, the president who inspired the greatest zeal and the deepest revulsion at the same time." In 2008 Chávez was awarded the Blue Planet Award by the Ethecon Foundation, one of the comparatively very few 'grass-root' foundations.
    On 1 March 2013, Vice President Nicolás Maduro said that Chávez had been receiving chemotherapy in Venezuela following his surgery in Cuba.
    More Details Hide Details On 4 March, it was announced by the Venezuelan government that Chávez's breathing problems had worsened and he was suffering a new, severe respiratory infection.
    On 18 February 2013, Chávez returned to Venezuela after 2 months of cancer treatment in Cuba.
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    It was announced on 3 January 2013 that Chávez had a severe lung infection that had caused respiratory failures following a strict treatment regimen for respiratory insufficiency.
    More Details Hide Details However he was reported to have overcome this later that month, and it was reported that he was then undergoing further treatment.
    In January 2013 near the end of Chávez's presidency, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal gave Venezuela's economic freedom a low score of 36.1, twenty points lower than 56.1 in 1999, ranking its freedom very low at 174 of 177 countries, with freedom on a downward trend.
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    The inauguration of Chávez's new term was scheduled for 10 January 2013, but as he was undergoing medical treatment at the time in Cuba, he was not able to return to Venezuela for that date.
    More Details Hide Details The National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello proposed to postpone the inauguration and the Supreme Court decided that, being just another term of the sitting president and not the inauguration of a new one, the formality could be bypassed. The Venezuelan Bishops Conference opposed the verdict, stating that the constitution must be respected and the Venezuelan government had not been transparent regarding details about Chávez's health. Acting executive officials produced orders of government signed by Chávez, which were suspected of forgery by some opposition politicians, who claimed that Chávez was too sick to be in control of his faculties. Guillermo Cochez, recently dismissed from the office of Panamanian ambassador to the Organization of American States, even claimed that Chávez had been brain-dead since 31 December 2012. Near to Chavez's death, two American attachés were expelled from the country for allegedly undermining Venezuelan democracy.
    In order to ensure that his Bolivarian Revolution became socially engrained in Venezuela, Chávez discussed his wish to stand for re-election when his term ran out in 2013, and spoke of ruling beyond 2030.
    More Details Hide Details Under the 1999 constitution, he could not legally stand for re-election again, and so brought about a referendum on 15 February 2009 to abolish the two-term limit for all public offices, including the presidency. Approximately 70% of the Venezuelan electorate voted, and they approved this alteration to the constitution with over 54% in favor, allowing any elected official the chance to try to run indefinitely.
  • 2012
    He defeated Henrique Capriles with 54% of the votes versus 45% for Capriles, which was a lower victory margin than in his previous presidential wins, in the 2012 Venezuelan presidential election Turnout in the election was 80%, with a hotly contested election between the two candidates.
    More Details Hide Details There was significant support for Chávez amongst the Venezuelan lower class. Chávez's opposition blamed him for unfairly using state funds to spread largesse before the election to bolster Chavez's support among his primary electoral base, the lower class.
    On 7 October 2012, Chávez won election as president for a fourth time, his third six-year term.
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    After winning his fourth term as president in the October 2012 presidential election, he was to be sworn in on 10 January 2013, but Venezuela's National Assembly postponed the inauguration to allow him time to recover from medical treatment in Cuba.
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    On 8 December 2012, Chávez announced he would undergo a new operation after doctors in Cuba detected malignant cells; the operation took place on 11 December 2012.
    More Details Hide Details Chávez suffered a respiratory infection after undergoing the surgery but it was controlled. It was announced 20 December by the country's vice-president that Chávez had suffered complications following his surgery.
    In November 2012, Chávez announced plans to travel to Cuba for more medical treatment for cancer.
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    On 9 July 2012, Chávez declared himself fully recovered from cancer just three months before the 2012 Venezuelan presidential election, which he won, securing a fourth term as president.
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    According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2012 there were 13,080 murders in Venezuela.
    More Details Hide Details In leaked government INE data for kidnappings in the year 2009, the number of kidnappings were at an estimated 16,917, contrasting the CICPCs number of only 673, before the Venezuelan government blocked the data. According to the leaked INE report, only 1,332 investigations for kidnappings were opened or about 7% of the total kidnapping cases, with 90.4% of the kidnappings happening away from rural areas, 80% of all being express kidnappings and the most common victim being lower-middle or middle class Venezuelans and middle-aged men. Also in 2009, it was reported that Venezuelan authorities would assign judicial police to Caracas area morgues to speak with families. At that time, they would advise families not to report the murder of their family member to the media in exchange for expediting the process of releasing the victim's body.
  • 2011
    Chávez gave a public appearance on 28 July 2011, his 57th birthday, in which he stated that his health troubles had led him to radically reorient his life towards a "more diverse, more reflective and multi-faceted" outlook, and he went on to call on the middle classes and the private sector to get more involved in his Bolivarian Revolution, something he saw as "vital" to its success.
    More Details Hide Details Soon after this speech, in August Chávez announced that his government would nationalize Venezuela's gold industry, taking it over from Russian-controlled company Rusoro, while at the same time also moving the country's gold stocks, which were largely stored in western banks, to banks in Venezuela's political allies like Russia, China and Brazil.
    On 17 July 2011, television news reported that Chávez had returned to Cuba for further cancer treatments.
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    In June 2011, Chávez revealed in a televised address from Havana, Cuba, that he was recovering from an operation to remove an abscessed tumor with cancerous cells.
    More Details Hide Details Vice President Elías Jaua declared that the President remained in "full exercise" of power and that there was no need to transfer power due to his absence from the country. On 3 July, the Venezuelan government denied, however, that Chávez's tumour had been completely removed, further stating that he was heading for "complete recovery".
    Kidnappings also rose tremendously during Chavez's tenure, with the number of kidnappings over 20 times higher in 2011 than when Chavez was elected.
    More Details Hide Details Documentary filmmaker James Brabazon, stated "kidnapping crimes had skyrocketed... after late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez freed thousands of violent prisoners as part of controversial criminal justice system reforms" while kidnappings and murders also increased due to Colombian organized crime activity as well. He further explained that common criminals felt that the Venezuelan government did not care for the problems of the higher and middle classes, which in turn gave them a sense of impunity that created a large business of kidnapping-for-ransom. Under Chávez's administration, crimes were so prevalent that by 2007 the government no longer produced crime data. Homicide rates in Venezuela more than tripled, with one NGO finding the rate to have nearly quadrupled. The majority of the deaths occur in crowded slums in Caracas. The NGO found that the number of homicides in the country increased from 6,000 in 1999 to 24,763 in 2013. In 2010 Caracas had the highest murder rate in the world.
    Suffering a return of the cancer originally diagnosed in June 2011, Chávez died in Caracas on 5 March 2013 at the age of 58.
    More Details Hide Details Following the adoption of a new constitution in 1999, Chávez focused on enacting social reforms as part of the Bolivarian Revolution, which is a type of socialist revolution. Using record-high oil revenues of the 2000s, his government nationalized key industries, created participatory democratic Communal Councils, and implemented social programs known as the Bolivarian Missions to expand access to food, housing, healthcare, and education. Venezuela received high oil profits in the mid-2000s and there were improvements in areas such as poverty, literacy, income equality, and quality of life occurring primarily between 2003 and 2007. At the end of Chávez's presidency in the early 2010s, economic actions performed by his government during the preceding decade such as deficit spending and price controls proved to be unsustainable, with Venezuela's economy faltering while poverty, inflation and shortages in Venezuela increased. Chávez's presidency also saw significant increases in the country's murder rate and continued corruption within the police force and government. His use of enabling acts and his government's use of Bolivarian propaganda was also controversial.
  • 2010
    In 2010, Alberto Müller Rojas, then vice president of Chávez's party, PSUV, stated that Chávez had "a tendency toward cyclothymia––mood swings that range from moments of extreme euphoria to moments of despondence".
    More Details Hide Details A different explanation was that such behavior was a tactic used by Chávez in order to attack opponents and polarize. Chávez was a Catholic. He intended at one time to become a priest. He saw his socialist policies as having roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ (liberation theology), and he publicly used the slogan of "Christ is with the Revolution!" Although he traditionally kept his own faith a private matter, Chávez over the course of his presidency became increasingly open to discussing his religious views, stating that he interpreted Jesus as a Communist. He was, in general, a liberal Catholic, some of whose declarations were disturbing to the religious community of his country. In 2008 he expressed his skepticism of an afterlife, saying that such an idea was false. He also would declare his belief in Darwin's theory of evolution, stating that "it is a lie that God created man from the ground." Among other things, he cursed the state of Israel, and he had some disputes with both the Venezuelan Catholic clergy and Protestant groups like the New Tribes Mission, whose evangelical leader he "condemned to hell". In addition, he showed syncretistic practices such as the worship of the Venezuelan goddess María Lionza. In his last years, after he discovered he had cancer, Chávez became more attached to the Catholic Church.
    In 2010, Amnesty International criticized the Chávez administration for targeting critics following several politically motivated arrests.
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    In September 2010, responding to escalating crime rates in the country, Chávez stated that Venezuela is no more violent than it was when he first took office.
    More Details Hide Details An International Crisis Group report that same year stated that when Chávez took office, there were some factors beyond his control that led to the crime epidemic throughout Venezuela, but that Chávez ignored it as well as corruption in the country; especially among fellow state officials. The report also stated that international organised crime filters between Colombia and Venezuela with assistance from "the highest spheres of government" in Venezuela, leading to higher rates of kidnapping, drug trafficking, and homicides. Chávez supporters stated that the Bolivarian National Police has reduced crime and also said that the states with the highest murder rates were controlled by the opposition. According to the publications El Espectador and Le Monde diplomatique, rising crime in rural and urban areas of Venezuela was partly due to increased cross-border activity by Colombian right-wing paramilitary groups like Águilas Negras. During Chávez's presidency, there were reports of prisoners having easy access to firearms, drugs, and alcohol. Carlos Nieto—head of Window to Freedom—alleges that heads of gangs acquire military weapons from the state, saying: "They have the types of weapons that can only be obtained by the country's armed forces.... No one else has these." Use of internet and mobile phones are also a commonplace where criminals can take part in street crime while in prison. One prisoner explained how, "If the guards mess with us, we shoot them" and that he had "seen a man have his head cut off and people play football with it."
    In September 2010, Chávez announced the location of 876 million bolivars ($203 million) for community projects around the country, specifically communal councils and the newly formed communes.
    More Details Hide Details Chávez also criticised the bureaucracy still common in Venezuela saying, when in discussion with his Communes Minister Isis Ochoa, that "All of the projects must be carried out by the commune, not the bureaucracy." The Ministry for Communes, which oversees and funds all communal projects, was initiated in 2009. Despite such promises, the Venezuelan government often failed to construct the number of homes they had proposed. According to Venezuela's El Universal, one of the Chávez administration's outstanding weaknesses is the failure to meet its goals of construction of housing. compared to USD. The red line represents what the Venezuelan government officially rates the VEF. On February 5, 2003, the government created CADIVI, a currency control board charged with handling foreign exchange procedures. Its creation was to control capital flight by placing limits on individuals and only offering them so much of a foreign currency. This limit to foreign currency led to a creation of a currency black market economy since Venezuelan merchants rely on foreign goods that require payments with reliable foreign currencies. As Venezuela printed more money for their social programs, the bolívar continued to devalue for Venezuelan citizens and merchants since the government held the majority of the more reliable currencies.
    In 2010, Chávez supported the construction of 184 communes, housing thousands of families, with $23 million in government funding.
    More Details Hide Details The communes produced some of their own food, and were able to make decisions by popular assembly of what to do with government funds.
    Shortages of food then occurred throughout the rest of Chávez's presidency with food shortage rates between 10% and 20% from 2010 to 2013.
    More Details Hide Details One possible reason for shortages is the relationship between inflation and subsidies, where no profitability due to price regulations affect operations. In turn, the lack of dollars made it difficult to purchase more food imports. Chávez's strategy in response to food shortages consisted of attempting to increase domestic production through nationalizing large parts of the food industry, though such nationalizations allegedly did the opposite and caused decreased production instead. As part of his strategy of food security Chávez started a national chain of supermarkets, the Mercal network, which had 16,600 outlets and 85,000 employees that distributed food at highly discounted prices, and ran 6000 soup kitchens throughout the country. Simultaneously Chávez expropriated many private supermarkets. According to Commerce Minister Richard Canan, "The average savings for the basic food bundle (at the Mercal Bicentennial markets) is around 30%. There are some products, for example cheese and meat, which reach a savings of 50 to 60% compared with capitalist markets." The Mercal network was criticized by some commentators as being a part of Chávez's strategy to brand himself as a provider of cheap food, and the shops feature his picture prominently. The Mercal network was also subject to frequent scarcities of basic staples such as meat, milk and sugar – and when scarce products arrived, shoppers had to wait in lines.
  • THIRTIES
  • 2009
    In 2009, attacks on a synagogue in Caracas were alleged to be influenced by "vocal denunciations of Israel" by the Venezuelan state media and Hugo Chávez even though Chavez promptly condemned the attacks blaming an "oligarchy".
    More Details Hide Details A weeklong CICPC investigation revealed the synagogue attack to be an 'inside job', the motive apparently being robbery rather than anti-semitism. Human Rights Watch criticized Chávez for engaging in "often discriminatory policies that have undercut journalists' freedom of expression". Freedom House listed Venezuela's press as being "Not Free" in its 2011 Map of Press Freedom, noting that "the gradual erosion of press freedom in Venezuela continued in 2010." Reporters Without Borders criticized the Chávez administration for "steadily silencing its critics". In the group's 2009 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders noted that "Venezuela is now among the region’s worst press freedom offenders." In July 2005 Chávez inaugurated TeleSUR, a pan-American news channel similar to Al Jazeera, which sought to challenge the present domination of Latin American television news by Univision and the United States-based CNN en Español. In 2006 Chávez inaugurated a state-funded movie studio called Villa del Cine (English: Cinema City).
    The social works initiated by Chávez's government relied on oil products, the keystone of the Venezuelan economy, with Chávez's administration suffering from Dutch disease as a result. Economist Mark Weisbrot, in a 2009 analysis of the Chávez administration stated that economic expansion during Chávez's tenure "began when the government got control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003".
    More Details Hide Details Chávez gained a reputation as a price hawk in OPEC, pushing for stringent enforcement of production quotas and higher target oil prices. According to Cannon, the state income from oil revenue grew "from 51% of total income in 2000 to 56% 2006"; oil exports increased "from 77% in 1997 to 89% in 2006"; and his administration's dependence on petroleum sales was "one of the chief problems facing the Chávez government". In 2012, the World Bank also explained that Venezuela's economy is "extremely vulnerable" to changes in oil prices since in 2012 "96% of the country's exports and nearly half of its fiscal revenue" relied on oil production, while by 2008, according to Foreign Policy, exports of everything but oil "collapsed". The Chávez administration then used such oil prices on his populist policies and for voters. Economists say that the Venezuelan government's overspending on social programs and strict business policies contributed to imbalances in the country's economy, contributing to rising inflation, poverty, low healthcare spending and shortages in Venezuela going into the final years of his presidency. Such occurrences, especially the risk of default and the unfriendliness toward private businesses, led to a lack of foreign investment and stronger foreign currencies, though the Venezuelan government argued that the private sector had remained relatively unchanged during Chavez's presidency despite several nationalizations.
    In a 2009 speech to the national assembly, he said: "I am a Marxist to the same degree as the followers of the ideas of Jesus Christ and the liberator of America, Simon Bolivar."
    More Details Hide Details He was well versed in many Marxist texts, having read the works of many Marxist theoreticians, and often publicly quoted them. Various international Marxists supported his government, believing it to be a sign of proletariat revolution as predicted in Marxist theory. In 2010, Hugo Chávez proclaimed support for the ideas of Marxist Leon Trotsky, saying "When I called him (former Minister of Labour, José Ramón Rivero)" Chávez explained, "he said to me: 'President I want to tell you something before someone else tells you... I am a Trotskyist', and I said, 'well, what is the problem? I am also a Trotskyist! I follow Trotsky's line, that of permanent revolution," and then cited Marx and Lenin. Chávez's early heroes were nationalist military dictators that included former Peruvian president Juan Velasco Alvarado and former Panamanian "Maximum Leader" Omar Torrijos. One dictator Chávez admired was Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a former president of Venezuela that he praised for the public works he performed. Chávez praised Pérez Jiménez in order to vilify preceding democratic governments, stating that "General Pérez Jiménez was the best president Venezuela had in a long time... He was much better than Rómulo Betancourt, much better than all of those others. They hated him because he was a soldier."
  • 2006
    On 15 December 2006, Chávez publicly announced that those leftist political parties who had continually supported him in the Patriotic Pole would unite into one single, much larger party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV).
    More Details Hide Details In the speech which he gave announcing the PSUV's creation, Chávez declared that the old parties must "forget their own structures, party colours and slogans, because they are not the most important thing for the fatherland." According to political analyst Barry Cannon, the purpose of creating the PSUV was to "forge unity amongst the disparate elements the Bolivarian movement, providing grassroots input into policy and leadership formation, and uniting the grassroots and leadership into one single body." It was hoped that by doing so, it would decrease the problems of clientelism and corruption and also leave the movement less dependent on its leadership: as Chávez himself declared, "In this new party, the bases will elect the leaders. This will allow real leaders to emerge." Chávez had initially proclaimed that those leftist parties which chose to not dissolve into the PSUV would have to leave the government, however, after several of those parties supporting him refused to do so, he ceased to issue such threats. There was initially much grassroots enthusiasm for the creation of the PSUV, with membership having risen to 5.7 million people by 2007, making it the largest political group in Venezuela. The United Nations' International Labour Organization however expressed concern over some voters' being pressured to join the party.
    In the presidential election of December 2006, which saw a 74% voter turnout, Chávez was once more elected, this time with 63% of the vote, beating his closest challenger Manuel Rosales, who conceded his loss.
    More Details Hide Details The election was certified as being free and legitimate by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center. After this victory, Chávez promised an "expansion of the revolution."
    In May 2006, Chávez visited Europe in a private capacity, where he announced plans to supply cheap Venezuelan oil to poor working class communities in the continent.
    More Details Hide Details The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone welcomed him, describing him as "the best news out of Latin America in many years".
  • 2005
    The various attempts at overthrowing the Bolivarian government from power had only served to further radicalize Chávez. In January 2005, he began openly proclaiming the ideology of "socialism of the 21st Century", something that was distinct from his earlier forms of Bolivarianism, which had been social democratic in nature, merging elements of capitalism and socialism.
    More Details Hide Details He used this new term to contrast the democratic socialism, which he wanted to promote in Latin America from the Marxist–Leninist socialism that had been spread by socialist states like the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China during the 20th century, arguing that the latter had not been truly democratic, suffering from a lack of participatory democracy and an excessively authoritarian governmental structure.
  • 2004
    In 2004, Amnesty International criticized President Chavez's administration of not handling the 2002 coup in a proper manner, saying that violent incidents "have not been investigated effectively and have gone unpunished" and that "impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators encourages further human rights violations in a particularly volatile political climate". Amnesty International also criticized the Venezuelan National Guard and the Direccion de Inteligencia Seguridad y Prevención (DISIP) stating that they "allegedly used excessive force to control the situation on a number of occasions" during protests involving the 2004 Venezuela recall.
    More Details Hide Details It was also noted that many of the protesters detained seemed to not be "brought before a judge within the legal time limit". In 2008, Human Rights Watch released a report reviewing Chávez's human rights record over his first decade in power. The report praises Chávez's 1999 amendments to the constitution which significantly expanded human rights guarantees, as well as mentioning improvements in women's rights and indigenous rights, but noted a "wide range of government policies that have undercut the human rights protections established" by the revised constitution. In particular, the report accused Chávez and his administration of engaging in discrimination on political grounds, eroding the independence of the judiciary, and of engaging in "policies that have undercut journalists' freedom of expression, workers' freedom of association, and civil society's ability to promote human rights in Venezuela." The Venezuelan government retaliated for the report by expelling members of Human Rights Watch from the country. Subsequently, over a hundred Latin American scholars signed a joint letter with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a leftist NGO that would defend Chávez and his movement, with the individuals criticizing the Human Rights Watch report for its alleged factual inaccuracy, exaggeration, lack of context, illogical arguments, and heavy reliance on opposition newspapers as sources, amongst other things.
    A 2004 referendum to recall Chávez was defeated. 70% of the eligible Venezuelan population turned out to vote, with 59% of voters deciding to keep the president in power.
    More Details Hide Details Unlike his original 1998 election victory, this time Chávez's electoral support came almost entirely from the poorer working classes rather than the middle classes, who "had practically abandoned Chávez" after he "had consistently moved towards the left in those five and a half years".
  • 2003
    The main strategy for making food available to all economic classes was a controversial policy of fixing price ceilings for basic staple foods implemented in 2003.
    More Details Hide Details Between 1998 and 2006 malnutrition related deaths fell by 50%. In October 2009, the Executive Director of the National Institute of Nutrition (INN) Marilyn Di Luca reported that the average daily caloric intake of the Venezuelan people had reached 2790 calories, and that malnutrition had fallen from 21% in 1998 to 6%. Chávez also expropriated and redistributed 5 million acres of farmland from large landowners. Price controls initiated by Chávez created shortages of goods since merchants could no longer afford to import necessary goods. Chávez blamed "speculators and hoarders" for these scarcities and strictly enforced his price control policy, denouncing anyone who sold food products for higher prices as "speculators". In 2011, food prices in Caracas were nine times higher than when the price controls were put in place and resulted in shortages of cooking oil, chicken, powdered milk, cheese, sugar and meat. The price controls increased the demand for basic foods while making it difficult for Venezuela to import goods causing increased reliance on domestic production. Economists believe this policy increased shortages.
  • 2002
    Chávez's second wife was journalist Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez, with whom he separated in 2002 and divorced in 2004.
    More Details Hide Details Through that marriage, Chávez had another daughter, Rosinés. Both María and Rosa provided Chávez with grandchildren. When Chávez was released from prison, he initiated affairs with women that had been his followers. Allegations were also made that Chávez was a womanizer throughout both his marriages, having encounters with actresses, journalists, ministers, and ministers' daughters. The allegations remained unproven and are contradicted by statements provided by other figures close to him, though one retired aide shared that while Chávez was married to Marisabel and afterward, he participated in liaisons with women and gave them gifts, with some rumors among his aides stating that some of the women bore children of Chávez. Those who were very close to Chávez felt that he had a bipolar disorder. Salvador Navarrete, a physician that treated Chávez during his first years in the presidency believed that Chávez was bipolar.
    Venezuela said it would not accept an IACHR/OAS visit as long as Santiago Cantón remains its Executive Secretary, unless the IACHR apologizes for what he described as its support of the 2002 coup.
    More Details Hide Details In November 2014, Venezuela appeared before the United Nations Committee Against Torture over cases between 2002 and 2014. Human rights expert of the UN committee, Felice D. Gaer, noted that in "only 12 public officials have been convicted of human rights violations in the last decade when in the same period have been more than 5,000 complaints". The United Nations stated that there were 31,096 complaints of human rights violations received between the years 2011 and 2014. Of the 31,096 complaints, only 3.1% of the cases resulted in only in an indictment by the Venezuelan Public Ministry. Chavez's opposition to Zionism and close relations with Iran led to accusations of antisemitism Such claims were made by the Venezuelan Jewish community at a World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in Jerusalem. Claims of antisemitism were prompted by various remarks Chávez made, including in a 2006 Christmas speech where he complained that "a minority, the descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ", now had "taken possession of all of the wealth of the world".
    According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), "Chavez's government funded FARC's office in Caracas and gave it access to Venezuela's intelligence services" and said that during the 2002 coup attempt that "FARC also responded to requests from intelligence service to provide training in urban terrorism involving targeted killings and the use of explosives".
    More Details Hide Details The IISS continued saying that "the archive offers tantalizing but ultimately unproven suggestions that FARC may have undertaken assassinations of Chavez's political opponents on behalf of the Venezuelan state". Venezuelan diplomats denounced the IISS' findings saying that they had "basic inaccuracies". In 2007, authorities in Colombia claimed that through laptops they had seized on a raid against Raúl Reyes, they found in documents that Hugo Chávez offered payments of as much as $300 million to the FARC "among other financial and political ties that date back years" along with other documents showing "high-level meetings have been held between rebels and Ecuadorean officials" and some documents claiming that FARC had "bought and sold uranium". In 2015, Chávez's former bodyguard Leamsy Salazar stated in Bumerán Chávez that Chávez met with the high command of FARC in 2007 somewhere in rural Venezuela. Chávez created a system in which the FARC would provide the Venezuelan government with drugs that would be transported in live cattle and the FARC would receive money and weaponry from the Venezuelan government. According to Salazar, this was done in order to weaken Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, an enemy of Chávez.
    On 11 April 2002, during mass protests in Caracas against the Bolivarian government, twenty people were killed, and over 110 were wounded.
    More Details Hide Details A group of high-ranking anti-Chávez military officers had been planning to launch a coup against Chávez and used the civil unrest as an opportunity. After the plotters gained significant power, Chávez agreed to be detained and was transferred by army escort to La Orchila; business leader Pedro Carmona declared himself president of an interim government. Carmona abolished the 1999 constitution and appointed a small governing committee to run the country. Protests in support of Chávez along with insufficient support for Carmona's regime, which some felt was implementing totalitarian measures, quickly led to Carmona's resignation, and Chávez was returned to power on 14 April. Chávez's response was to moderate his approach, implementing a new economic team that appeared to be more centrist and reinstated the old board of directors and managers of the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), whose replacement had been one of the reasons for the coup. At the same time, the Bolivarian government began increased the country's military capacity, purchasing 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and several helicopters from Russia, as well as a number of Super Tucano light attack and training planes from Brazil. Troop numbers were also increased.
  • 2001
    However, Venezuela's growing alliance with Cuba came at the same time as a deteriorating relationship with the United States: in late 2001, just after the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation for 11 September attacks against the U.S. by Islamist militants, Chávez showed pictures of Afghan children killed in a bomb attack on his television show.
    More Details Hide Details He commented that "They are not to blame for the terrorism of Osama Bin Laden or anyone else", and called on the American government to end "the massacre of the innocents. Terrorism cannot be fought with terrorism." The U.S. government responded negatively to the comments, which were picked up by the media worldwide.
    The first organized protest against the Bolivarian government occurred in January 2001, when the Chávez administration tried to implement educational reforms through the proposed Resolution 259 and Decree 1.011, which would have seen the publication of textbooks with a heavy Bolivarian bias.
    More Details Hide Details Parents noticed that such textbooks were really Cuban books filled with revolutionary propaganda outfitted with different covers. The protest movement, which was primarily by middle class parents whose children went to privately run schools, marched to central Caracas shouting out the slogan "Don't mess with my children." Although the protesters were denounced by Chávez, who called them "selfish and individualistic," the protest was successful enough for the government to retract the proposed education reforms and instead enter into a consensus-based educational program with the opposition. Later into 2001, an organization known as the (CD) was founded, under which the Venezuelan opposition political parties, corporate powers, most of the country's media, the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the Institutional Military Front and the Central Workers Union all united to oppose Chávez's regime. The prominent businessman Pedro Carmona (1941–) was chosen as the CD's leader. The CD and other opponents of Chávez's Bolivarian government accused it of trying to turn Venezuela from a democracy into a dictatorship by centralising power amongst its supporters in the Constituent Assembly and granting Chávez increasingly autocratic powers. Many of them pointed to Chávez's personal friendship with Cuba's Fidel Castro and the one-party socialist government in Cuba as a sign of where the Bolivarian government was taking Venezuela. Others did not hold such a strong view but still argued that Chávez was a "free-spending, authoritarian populist" whose policies were detrimental to the country.
  • 2000
    Meanwhile, the 2000 elections had led to Chávez's supporters gaining 101 out of 165 seats in the Venezuelan National Assembly, and so in November 2001 they voted to allow him to pass 49 social and economic decrees.
    More Details Hide Details This move antagonized the opposition movement particularly strongly. At the start of the 21st century, Venezuela was the world's fifth largest exporter of crude oil, with oil accounting for 85.3% of the country's exports, therefore dominating the country's economy. Previous administrations had sought to privatise this industry, with U.S. corporations having a significant level of control, but the Chávez administration wished to curb this foreign control over the country's natural resources by nationalising much of it under the state-run oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PdVSA). In 2001, the government introduced a new Hydrocarbons Law through which they sought to gain greater state control over the oil industry: they did this by raising royalty taxes on the oil companies and also by introducing the formation of "mixed companies", whereby the PdVSA could have joint control with private companies over industry. By 2006, all of the 32 operating agreements signed with private corporations during the 1990s had been converted from being primarily or solely corporate-run to being at least 51% controlled by PdVSA.
    In June 2000 he separated from his wife Marisabel, and their divorce was finalised in January 2004.
    More Details Hide Details The Chávez government's initial policies were moderate, capitalist and centre-left. They had much in common with those of contemporary Latin American leftists like Brazilian president Lula da Silva. Chávez initially believed that capitalism was still a valid economic model for Venezuela, but only Rhenish capitalism, not the US-supported neoliberalism of prior Venezuelan governments. He followed the economic guidelines of the International Monetary Fund and continued to encourage foreign investment in Venezuela, even visiting the New York Stock Exchange in the United States to convince wealthy investors to invest.
    In May 2000 he launched his own Sunday morning radio show, Aló Presidente (Hello, President), on the state radio network.
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    He was re-elected in 2000 and again in 2006 with over 60% of the votes.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1999
    The 1999 Venezuelan constitution eliminated much of Venezuela's checks and balances, Chávez's government controlled every branch of the Venezuelan government for over 15 years after it passed until the Venezuelan parliamentary election in 2015. Under the new constitution, it was legally required that new elections be held in order to re-legitimize the government and president. This presidential election in July 2000 would be a part of a greater "megaelection", the first time in the country's history that the president, governors, national and regional congressmen, mayors and councilmen would be voted for on the same day.
    More Details Hide Details
    The momentum of the support he received in previous elections, made the referendum on 25 April 1999 a success for Chávez; 88% of the voters supported his proposal.
    More Details Hide Details Chávez called an election on 25 July to elect the members of the constitutional assembly. Over 900 of the 1,171 candidates standing for election that July were Chávez opponents. Despite the many opposition candidates, Chávez supporters won another overwhelming electoral victory. His supporters took 95% of the seats, 125 in all, including all of the seats assigned to indigenous groups. The opposition won only six seats. The constitutional assembly, filled with supporters of Chávez, began to draft a constitution that made censorship easier and granted the executive branch more power. On 12 August 1999, the new constitutional assembly voted to give themselves the power to abolish government institutions and to dismiss officials who were perceived as corrupt or as operating only in their own interests. Opponents of the Chávez regime argued that it was therefore dictatorial. Most jurists believed that the new constitutional assembly had become the country's "supreme authority" and that all other institutions were subordinate to it. The assembly also declared a "judicial emergency" and granted itself the power to overhaul the judicial system. The Supreme Court ruled that the assembly did indeed have this authority, and was replaced in the 1999 Constitution with the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
    Beginning February 27, 1999, the tenth anniversary of the Caracazo massacre, Chávez set into motion a social welfare program called Plan Bolívar 2000.
    More Details Hide Details He said he had allotted $20.8 million for the plan, though some say that the program cost $113 million. The plan involved 70,000 soldiers, sailors and members of the air force repairing roads and hospitals, removing stagnant water that offered breeding areas for disease-carrying mosquitoes, offering free medical care and vaccinations, and selling food at low prices.
    Chávez's presidential inauguration took place 2 February 1999.
    More Details Hide Details He deviated from the usual words of the presidential oath when he took it, proclaiming: "I swear before God and my people that upon this moribund constitution I will drive forth the necessary democratic transformations so that the new republic will have a Magna Carta befitting these new times." Freedom in Venezuela suffered following "the decision of President Hugo Chávez, ratified in a national referendum, to abolish congress and the judiciary, and by his creation of a parallel government of military cronies". Soon after being established into office, Chávez spent much of his time attempting to abolish existing checks and balances in Venezuela. He appointed new figures to government posts, adding leftist allies to key positions and "army colleagues were given a far bigger say in the day-to-day running of the country". For instance he put MBR-200 founder, in charge of the Bolivarian Intelligence Agency and made, one of the 1992 coup leaders, governor of the Federal District of Caracas.
  • 1998
    By May 1998, Chávez's support had risen to 30% in polls, and by August he was registering 39%.
    More Details Hide Details With polls showing support for Chávez increasing, and for Sáez decreasing, both the main two political parties, Copei and Democratic Action, put their support behind Henrique Salas Römer, a Yale University-educated economist who represented the Project Venezuela party. Voter turnout in the election is disputed. Voter turnout was 63.45%, and Chávez won the election with 56.20% of the vote. Academic analysis of the election showed that Chávez's support had come primarily from the country's poor and "disenchanted middle class", whose standard of living had decreased rapidly over the previous decade, while much of the middle and upper class vote went to Römer.
    Released from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.
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  • 1997
    As a result, Chávez and his supporters founded a political party, the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR – Movimiento Quinta República) in July 1997 in order to support Chávez's candidature in the Venezuelan presidential election, 1998.
    More Details Hide Details At the start of the election run-up, front runner Irene Sáez was backed by one of Venezuela's two primary political parties, Copei. Chávez's revolutionary rhetoric gained him support from Patria Para Todos (Homeland for All), the Partido Comunista Venezolano (Venezeuelan Communist Party) and the Movimiento al Socialismo (Movement for Socialism). Chávez's promises of widespread social and economic reforms won the trust and favor of the primarily poor and working class.
    On his tours around the country he met Marisabel Rodríguez, who would give birth to their daughter shortly before becoming his second wife in 1997.
    More Details Hide Details Travelling around Latin America in search of foreign support for his Bolivarian movement, he visited Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, and finally Cuba, where he met Castro and became friends with him. During his stay in Colombia, he spent six months receiving guerilla training and establishing contacts with the FARC and ELN terrorist groups, and even adopted a nom de guerre, Comandante Centeno. After his return to Venezuela, Chávez was critical of President Caldera and his neoliberal economic policies. A drop in per capita income, coupled with increases in poverty and crime, "led to gaps emerging between rulers and ruled which favoured the emergence of a populist leader". By now Chávez was a supporter of taking military action, believing that the oligarchy would never allow him and his supporters to win an election, while Francisco Arias Cárdenas insisted that they take part in the representative democratic process. Indeed, Cárdenas soon joined the Radical Cause socialist party and won the December 1995 election to become governor of the oil-rich Zulia State.
  • 1993
    While Chávez and the other senior members of the MBR-200 were in prison, his relationship with Herma Marksman broke up in July 1993. In 1994, Rafael Caldera (1916–2009) of the centrist National Convergence Party and who had knowledge of the coup was elected president, and soon after freed Chávez and the other imprisoned MBR-200 members, though Caldera banned them from returning to the military.
    More Details Hide Details Chávez went on a 100-day tour of the country, promoting his Bolivarian cause of social revolution.
  • 1992
    For the position of president, Chávez's closest challenger proved to be his former friend and co-conspirator in the 1992 coup, Francisco Arias Cárdenas, who since becoming governor of Zulia state had turned towards the political centre and begun to denounce Chávez as autocratic.
    More Details Hide Details Although some of his supporters feared that he had alienated those in the middle class and the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy who had formerly supported him, Chávez was re-elected with 59.76% of the vote (the equivalent of 3,757,000 people), a larger majority than his 1998 electoral victory, again primarily receiving his support from the poorer sectors of Venezuelan society. That year, Chávez helped to further cement his geopolitical and ideological ties with the Cuban government of Fidel Castro by signing an agreement under which Venezuela would supply Cuba with 53,000 barrels of oil per day at preferential rates, in return receiving 20,000 trained Cuban medics and educators. In the ensuing decade, this would be increased to 90,000 barrels a day (in exchange for 40,000 Cuban medics and teachers), dramatically aiding the Caribbean island's economy and standard of living after its "Special Period" of the 1990s.
    Chávez delayed the MBR-200 coup, initially planned for December, until the early twilight hours of 4 February 1992.
    More Details Hide Details On that date five army units under Chávez's command moved into urban Caracas. Despite years of planning, the coup quickly encountered trouble since Chávez commanded the loyalty of less than 10% of Venezuela's military. After numerous betrayals, defections, errors, and other unforeseen circumstances, Chávez and a small group of rebels found themselves hiding in the Military Museum, unable to communicate with other members of their team. Pérez managed to escape Miraflores Palace. Fourteen soldiers were killed, and fifty soldiers and some eighty civilians injured during the ensuing violence. Another unsuccessful coup against the government occurred in November, with the fighting during the coups resulting in the deaths of at least 143 people and perhaps as many as several hundred. Chávez gave himself up to the government and appeared on television, in uniform, to call on the remaining coup members to lay down their arms. Many viewers noted that Chávez in his speech remarked that he had failed only "por ahora" (for now). Venezuelans, particularly poor ones, began seeing him as someone who stood up against government corruption and kleptocracy. The coup "flopped militarily – and dozens died – but made him a media star," noted Rory Carroll of The Guardian.
    Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d'état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1989
    In 1989, centrist Carlos Andrés Pérez (1922–2010) was elected President, and though he had promised to oppose the United States government's Washington Consensus and the International Monetary Fund's policies, he opposed neither once he got into office, following instead neoliberal economic policies supported by the United States and the IMF, angering the public.
    More Details Hide Details In an attempt to stop widespread protests and looting that followed his social spending cuts, Pérez initiated Plan Ávila and an outbreak of looting and violent repression of protesters, known as El Caracazo unfolded. Though members of Chávez's MBR-200 movement allegedly participated in the crackdown, Chávez did not; he was then hospitalized with chicken pox. He later condemned the event as "genocide". Chávez began preparing for a military coup d'état known as Operation Zamora. The plan involved members of the military overwhelming military locations and communication installations and then establishing Rafael Caldera in power once Perez was captured and assassinated.
  • 1988
    In 1988, after being promoted to the rank of major, the high-ranking General Rodríguez Ochoa took a liking to Chávez and employed him to be his assistant at his office in Caracas.
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  • 1984
    In 1984 he met Herma Marksman, a recently divorced history teacher with whom he had an affair that lasted several years.
    More Details Hide Details During this time Francisco Arias Cárdenas, a soldier interested in liberation theology, also joined MBR-200. Cárdenas rose to a significant position within the group, although he came into ideological conflict with Chávez, with Chávez believing that they should begin direct military action in order to overthrow the government, something Cárdenas thought was reckless. After some time, some senior military officers became suspicious of Chávez and reassigned him so that he would not be able to gain any more fresh new recruits from the academy. He was sent to take command of the remote barracks at Elorza in Apure State, where he organized social events for the community and contacted the local indigenous tribal peoples, the Cuiva and Yaruro. Distrustful as they were because of the mistreatment at the hands of the Venezuelan army in previous decades, Chávez gained their trust by joining the expeditions of an anthropologist to meet with them. Chávez said his experiences with them later led him to introduce laws protecting the rights of indigenous tribal peoples.
  • 1981
    In 1981, Chávez, by now a captain, was assigned to teach at the military academy where he had formerly trained.
    More Details Hide Details Here he introduced new students to his so-called "Bolivarian" ideals and recruited some of them. By the time they had graduated, at least thirty out of 133 cadets had joined his cause.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1977
    In 1977, he founded a revolutionary movement together with Luis R. Gonzalez an William Jimenez, within the armed forces, in the hope that he could one day introduce a leftist government to Venezuela: the Venezuelan People's Liberation Army (or ELPV), consisted of him and a handful of his fellow soldiers who had no immediate plans for direct action, though they knew they wanted a middle way between the right wing policies of the government and the far left position of the Red Flag.
    More Details Hide Details Nevertheless, hoping to gain an alliance with civilian leftist groups in Venezuela, Chávez set up clandestine meetings with various prominent Marxists, including Alfredo Maneiro (the founder of the Radical Cause) and Douglas Bravo. At this time, Chávez married a working-class woman named Nancy Colmenares, with whom he had three children: Rosa Virginia (born September 1978), Maria Gabriela (born March 1980) and Hugo Rafael (born October 1983). Five years after his creation of the ELPV, Chávez went on to form a new secretive cell within the military, the Bolivarian Revolutionary Army-200 (EBR-200), later redesignated the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200). He was inspired by Ezequiel Zamora (1817–1860), Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) and Simón Rodríguez (1769–1854), who became known as the "three roots of the tree" of the MBR-200. Later, Chávez said that "the Bolivarian movement that was being born did not propose political objectives... Its goals were imminently internal. Its efforts were directed in the first place to studying the military history of Venezuela as a source of a military doctrine of our own, which up to then didn't exist". However, he always hoped for the Bolivarian Movement to become a politically dominant party that would "accept all kinds of ideas, from the right, from the left, from the ideological ruins of those old capitalist and communist systems." Indeed, Irish political analyst Barry Cannon noted that the MBR's early ideology "was a doctrine in construction, a heterogeneous amalgam of thoughts and ideologies, from universal thought, capitalism, Marxism, but rejecting the neoliberal models currently being imposed in Latin America and the discredited models of the old Soviet Bloc."
    In 1977, Chávez's unit was transferred to Anzoátegui, where they were involved in battling the Red Flag Party, a Marxist–Hoxhaist insurgency group.
    More Details Hide Details After intervening to prevent the beating of an alleged insurgent by other soldiers, Chávez began to have his doubts about the army and their methods in using torture. At the same time, he was becoming increasingly critical of the corruption in the army and in the civilian government, coming to believe Venezuela's poor were not benefiting from the oil wealth, and began to sympathize with the Red Flag Party and their cause and their violent methods.
  • 1975
    In 1975, Chávez graduated from the military academy as one of the top graduates of the year.
    More Details Hide Details Four years later, a second-lieutenant came out who had taken the revolutionary path. Following his graduation, Chávez was stationed as a communications officer at a counterinsurgency unit in Barinas, although the Marxist–Leninist insurgency which the army was sent to combat had already been eradicated from that state. At one point he found a stash of Marxist literature that apparently had belonged to insurgents many years before. He went on to read these books, which included titles by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong, but his favourite was a work entitled The Times of Ezequiel Zamora, written about the 19th-century federalist general whom Chávez had admired as a child. These books further convinced Chávez of the need for a leftist government in Venezuela: "By the time I was 21 or 22, I made myself a man of the left".
  • 1974
    In 1974, he was selected to be a representative in the commemorations for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ayacucho in Peru, the conflict in which Simon Bolívar's lieutenant, Antonio José de Sucre, defeated royalist forces during the Peruvian War of Independence.
    More Details Hide Details In Peru, Chávez heard the leftist president, General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1910–1977), speak, and inspired by Velasco's ideas that the military should act in the interests of the working classes when the ruling classes were perceived as corrupt, he "drank up the books had written, even memorising some speeches almost completely." Befriending the son of Maximum Leader Omar Torrijos, the leftist dictator of Panama, Chávez visited Panama, where he met with Torrijos, and was impressed with his land reform program that was designed to benefit the peasants. Influenced by Torrijos and Velasco he saw the potential for military generals to seize control of a government when the civilian authorities were perceived as serving the interests of only the wealthy elites. In contrast to Torrijos and Velasco, Chávez became highly critical of Augusto Pinochet, the right-wing general who had recently seized control in Chile with the aid of the American CIA. Chávez later said, "With Torrijos, I became a Torrijist. With Velasco I became a Velasquist. And with Pinochet, I became an anti-Pinochetist".
  • OTHER
  • 1954
    He was born on 28 July 1954 in his paternal grandmother Rosa Inéz Chávez's home, a modest three-room house located in the rural village Sabaneta, Barinas State.
    More Details Hide Details The Chávez family were of Amerindian, Afro-Venezuelan, and Spanish descent. His parents, Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, described as a proud COPEI member, and Elena Frías de Chávez, were schoolteachers who lived in the small village of Los Rastrojos. Hugo was born the second of seven children. Hugo described his childhood as "poor... but very happy", though his childhood of supposed poverty has been disputed as Chávez possibly changed the story of his background for political reasons. Attending the Julián Pino Elementary School, Chávez was particularly interested in the 19th-century federalist general Ezequiel Zamora, in whose army his own great-great-grandfather had served. With no high school in their area, Hugo's parents sent Hugo and his older brother Adán to live with their grandmother Rosa, who lived in a lower middle class subsidized home provided by the government, where they attended Daniel O'Leary High School in the mid-1960s. Hugo later described his grandmother as being "a pure human being... pure love, pure kindness." She was a devout Roman Catholic, and Hugo was an altar boy at a local church. His father, despite having the salary of a teacher, helped pay college for Chávez and his siblings.
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