Hugo Chavez


Hugo Chavez


Hugo Chávez was born on July 28, 1954, in Sabaneta, Venezuela. He was president of Venezuela from 1999 until 2013, when he died of cancer. Early in his life he was introduced to ideas about Marxism and Communism. In 1971 he entered the Venezuelan Military Academy in Caracas, where he became Lieutenant Colonel.[1] During the 1940s, foreign companies controlled almost 98% of Venezuelan oil production.[2] It is under this context where the Punto Fijo regime emerges. This was a system of pacts between different political parties to maintain stability in the system, but became dominated by two parties, the Acción Democrática and the Social Christian Party. The pact slowly began to deteriorate in the early 1980s as there was a decline in oil prices, and the parties were not able to maintain control. It is under Carlos Andrés Perez, (1989-93) that neoliberal policies were introduced to Venezuela, which were not well received. The result was an attempted coup, known as Caracazo in 1989, followed by two failed coup attempts.[3] One attempt was in 1992, where Chávez was able to capture the sentiment of the Venezuelan people who had suffered a decade of economic crisis due to the implementation of the neoliberal program. He was imprisoned for two years, and it is in prison that he begins to plan his political career, here he began his campaign by appealing to the nature of the country, where there were large inequalities, and the overall discontent felt by the established political parties.[4] Six years later, in 1998, Chávez ran as candidate for presidency with the Movimiento V República, and won. Chávez is the textbook example of the charismatic populist leader. With his appeal to having a revolution in honor of Simón Bolívar, which promised a single Latin American bloc that would fight against foreign powers, especially the United States. Chávez also appealed to the poor population of Venezuela, and he often was himself as the embodiment of the popular will. He was also able to appeal and bond with the masses by having a television program called Aló Presidente which was broadcasted every Sunday[5]. In 1999, Chávez called for a referendum to change Venezuela’s constitution and won. The new changes brought about allowed for re-election. Also, Chávez officially renamed Venezuela as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which makes reference to Simón Bolivar and the revolution towards a united Latin America. In accordance with this, Chávez and Fidel Castro had a close relationship and in 2005 Petrocaribe was launched as an oil alliance among countries in Central America and the Caribbean.[6] This alliance allows Venezuela to sell oil to these countries. Hugo Chavez was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and died on March 5th, 2013. Having been in office for three terms, he was unable to secure his fourth term in office and Nicholas Maduro was appointed as his successor.


[1] Nelson, Brian A. “Hugo Chávez.” Encyclopædia Britannica. October 17, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2017.

[2] Cannon, Barry. Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution: Populism and Democracy in a Globalised Age. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2009.

[3] Ibid, n. pg

[4] Nelson,

[5] Shifter, Michael. “In Search of Hugo Chávez.” Foreign Affairs 85, no. 3 (May/June 2006).  doi:10.2307/20031966.

[6] Ibid,

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