Hugo Chávez

Hugo Chávez

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Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (ˈuɣo rafaˈel ˈtʃaβes ˈfɾi.as; born July 28, 1954) is the 56th and current
Presidency of Hugo Chávez
Venezuela under the presidency of Hugo Chávez has seen sweeping and radical shifts in social policy, moving away from the government officially embracing a free market economy and neoliberal reform principles and towards quasi-socialist income redistribution and social welfare programs. Chávez has...

 President of Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement
Fifth Republic Movement
The Fifth Republic Movement was a left-wing, Socialist political party in Venezuela. It was founded in July 1997, following a national congress of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200, to support the candidacy of Hugo Chávez, the current President of Venezuela, in the Venezuelan presidential...

 political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela
United Socialist Party of Venezuela
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela is the name of a democratic socialist political party in Venezuela which resulted from the fusion of some of the political and social forces that support the Bolivarian Revolution led by incumbent President Hugo Chávez...

 (PSUV). Following his own political ideology of Bolivarianism and "Socialism for the 21st Century", he has focused on implementing socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 reforms in the country as a part of a social project known as the Bolivarian Revolution
Bolivarian Revolution
The “Bolivarian Revolution” refers to a leftist social movement and political process in Venezuela led by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth Republic Movement...

, which has seen the implementation of a new constitution, participatory democratic councils
Participatory democracy
Participatory Democracy, also known as Deliberative Democracy, Direct Democracy and Real Democracy , is a process where political decisions are made directly by regular people...

 and the nationalisation of several key industries.

Born into a working class family in Sabaneta, Barinas
Sabaneta, Barinas
Sabaneta is a city in Venezuela's Barinas State. It was the birthplace of President Hugo Chávez. Sabaneta is the capital city of Alberto Arvelo Torrealba municipality in Barinas. The city was founded by Juan de Alhama in 1787. The principal industry is sugar production....

, Chávez became a career military officer, and after becoming dissatisfied with the Venezuelan puntofijismo political system which he viewed as corrupt and undemocratic, he founded the secretive Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200
Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200
The Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 was the political and social movement that current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez founded in 1982. It eventually planned and executed the February 4, 1992 attempted coup...

 (MBR-200) in the early 1980s to work towards overthrowing it. After the Democratic Action
Democratic Action
Democratic Action is a centrist Venezuelan political party established in 1941. The party and its antecedents played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy, and led the government during Venezuela's first democratic period...

 government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez , also known as CAP and often referred to as El Gocho , was a Venezuelan politician, President of Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993. His first presidency was known as the Saudi Venezuela due to its economic and social prosperity thanks to...

 ordered the violent repression of protests against spending cuts, Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d'état
Venezuelan coup attempts of 1992
The Venezuelan coup attempts of 1992 were an abortive coup d'état led by Hugo Chávez in February 1992, and a second attempted coup in November 1992, directed by others. The coups were directed against the Carlos Andrés Pérez government...

 against the government in 1992, for which he was imprisoned.

Getting out of prison after two years, he founded a social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 political party, the Fifth Republic Movement, and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998. He subsequently introduced a new constitution which increased rights for marginalised groups and altered the structure of Venezuelan government, and was re-elected in 2000. During his second presidential term, he introduced a system of Bolivarian Missions
Bolivarian Missions
The Bolivarian Missions are a series of social justice, social welfare, anti-poverty, educational, electoral and military recruiting programs implemented under the administration of the current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez...

, Communal Councils
Venezuelan Communal Councils
In April 2006 the Venezuelan government passed The Law of Communal Councils which empowers local citizens to form neighbourhood-based elected councils that initiate and oversee local policies and projects towards community development...

 and worker-managed cooperatives, as well as a program of land reform, whilst also nationalising various key industries. The opposition movement meanwhile, arguing that he was a populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 who was eroding representative democracy
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 and becoming increasingly authoritative, attempted to remove him from power both through an unsuccessful military coup in 2002 and a recall referendum in 2004. In 2005, he openly proclaimed his adherence to socialism, and was again elected into power in 2006, following which he founded his new political party, the PSUV, in 2007. Although suffering from cancer in 2011, Chávez has stated his intention to stand for re-election in 2012.

A self-professed anti-imperialist
Anti-imperialism
Anti-imperialism, strictly speaking, is a term that may be applied to a movement opposed to any form of colonialism or imperialism. Anti-imperialism includes opposition to wars of conquest, particularly of non-contiguous territory or people with a different language or culture; it also includes...

 and vocal critic of neoliberalism
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 and capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 more generally, Chávez has been a prominent opponent of the United States' foreign policy
Foreign relations of the United States
The United States has formal diplomatic relations with most nations. The United States federal statutes relating to foreign relations can be found in Title 22 of the United States Code.-Pacific:-Americas:-Caribbean:...

. Allying himself strongly with the socialist governments of Fidel
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 and then Raúl Castro
Raúl Castro
Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz is a Cuban politician and revolutionary who has been President of the Council of State of Cuba and the President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba since 2008; he previously exercised presidential powers in an acting capacity from 2006 to 2008...

 in Cuba, Evo Morales
Evo Morales
Juan Evo Morales Ayma , popularly known as Evo , is a Bolivian politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party and the cocalero trade union...

 in Bolivia, Rafael Correa
Rafael Correa
Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado born is the President of the Republic of Ecuador and was the president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations. An economist educated in Ecuador, Belgium and the United States, he was elected President in late 2006 and took office in January 2007...

 in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

 in Nicaragua, his presidency is seen as a part of the leftist "pink tide
Pink tide
Pink tide is a term being used in contemporary 21st century political analysis in the media and elsewhere to describe the perception that Leftist ideology in general, and Left-wing politics in particular, is increasingly influential in Latin America.In 2005, the BBC reported that out of 350...

" sweeping Latin America. He has supported Latin American and Caribbean cooperation
Latin American integration
The integration of Latin America has a history going back to Spanish American and Brazilian independence, when there was discussion of creating a regional state or confederation of Latin American nations to protect the area's newly won autonomy...

 and was instrumental in setting up the pan-regional Union of South American Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, the Bank of the South, and the regional television network TeleSur
TeleSUR
La Nueva Televisora del Sur is a pan-Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. TeleSUR was launched with the objective of providing information to promote the integration of Latin America....

. A highly controversial and divisive figure both at home and abroad, his political influence in Latin America led Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine to include him among their list of the world's 100 most influential people
Time 100
Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by Time. First published in 1999 as a result of a debate among several academics, the list has become an annual event.-History and format:...

 in both 2005 and 2006.

Childhood: 1954–1970


Hugo Chávez was born on 28 July 1954 in the home of his paternal grandmother Rosa Inéz Chávez (d. 1982), a three-room mud hut located in the rural village of Sabaneta
Sabaneta, Barinas
Sabaneta is a city in Venezuela's Barinas State. It was the birthplace of President Hugo Chávez. Sabaneta is the capital city of Alberto Arvelo Torrealba municipality in Barinas. The city was founded by Juan de Alhama in 1787. The principal industry is sugar production....

, Barinas State. The Chávez family were of mixed Amerindian
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, Afro-Venezuelan
Afro Venezuelans
Afro-Venezuelan are descendants of Africans in Venezuela. They are estimated to be at 5 million and tend to cluster in Barlovento in Miranda State, although they can be found all over the country. Afro-Venezuelans are hard to identify due to strong racial admixture in the population...

, and Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 descent. His parents, Hugo de los Reyes Chávez
Hugo de los Reyes Chávez
Hugo de los Reyes Chávez was a regional director of education and subsequently rose to prominence as a member of the Social Christian Party COPEI. He was governor of Barinas in Venezuela...

 and Elena Frías de Chávez
Elena Frías de Chávez
Elena Frías de Chávez is the mother of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and is the former First Lady of the state of Barinas. She grew up in the village of San Hipólito, close to the capital city of Barinas, and met her husband, Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, when she was 16 and he was 19 and working as...

, were working
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

-lower middle class
Lower middle class
In developed nations across the world, the lower middle class is a sub-division of the greater middle class. Universally the term refers to the group of middle class households or individuals who have not attained the status of the upper middle class associated with the higher realms of the middle...

 schoolteachers who lived in the small village of Los Rastrojos, and prior to Hugo's birth they had already had one son, Adán Chávez
Adán Chávez
Adán Chávez Frías is the governor of Barinas state in Venezuela, and was Minister of Education from 2007 to 2008. He is the elder brother of current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Adán Chávez Frías was a student at the University of the Andes, and now collaborates in his electoral campaigns and...

 and following Hugo's birth would go on to have five more, although one of them, Enzo, died aged six months old. The couple earned low incomes and as such lived in poverty, leading them to send Hugo and his brother Adán to live with their grandmother Rosa, a woman whom he would later describe as being "a pure human being... pure love, pure kindness." She was a devout Roman Catholic, and Hugo himself was raised into the faith, briefly being an altar boy at a local church. Chávez related that he and his brother "were very poor children but very happy", and that "At [Rosa's] side I got to know humility, poverty, pain, sometimes not having anything to eat. I saw the injustices of this world."

Attending the Julián Pino Elementary School, his hobbies included drawing, painting, baseball and history, in the latter of which he was particularly interested in the 19th-century federalist general Ezequiel Zamora
Ezequiel Zamora
Ezequiel Zamora , 1 February 1817 - 10 January 1860) was a Venezuelan soldier and leader of the Federalists in the Federal War of 1859-1863. His life was marked by the romanticism that characterized liberals of the time....

, in whose army his own great-great-grandfather had served. In the mid 1960s, Hugo, his brother and their grandmother moved to the city of Barinas
Barinas, Barinas
Barinas is a city in west central Venezuela. According to an estimate in 2009, its population is 251,535. It is the capital of the Barinas Municipality and the State of Barinas...

 so that the boys could attend what was then the only high school in the rural state, the Daniel O'Leary High School. He would later claim that whilst studying here he was simply a "a normal boy" with no "political motivation", and that he instead devoted his time to his school studies, playing baseball and trying to woo girls.

Military Academy: 1971–1975


Aged seventeen, Chávez decided to study at the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences
Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences
The Military academy of Venezuela , founded in 1810. It is located in Caracas, Venezuela and provides a four year program of training for officer cadets...

 in Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

, later remarking that "I felt like a fish in water. As if I had discovered the essence or part of the essence of life, of my true vocation." At the Academy, he was a member of the first class that was following a restructured curriculum known as the Andrés Bello
Andrés Bello
Andrés de Jesús María y José Bello López was a Venezuelan humanist, poet, lawmaker, philosopher, educator and philologist, whose political and literary works constitute an important part of Spanish American culture...

 Plan. This plan had been instituted by a group of progressive, nationalistic military officers who believed that change was needed within the military. This new curriculum encouraged students to learn not only military routines and tactics but also a wide variety of other topics, and to do so civilian professors were brought in from other universities to give lectures to the military cadets. Living in Caracas, he saw more of the endemic poverty faced by working class Venezuelans, something that echoed the poverty he had experienced growing up, and he has maintained that this experience only made him further committed to achieving social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

. He also began to get involved in local activities outside of the military school, playing both baseball and softball with the Criollitos de Venezuela team, progressing with them to the Venezuelan National Baseball Championships. Other hobbies that he undertook at the time included writing numerous poems, stories and theatrical pieces, painting and researching the life and political thought of 19th-century South American revolutionary Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

. He also became interested in the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

 (1928–1967) after reading his memoir The Diary of Che Guevara, although also read books by a wide variety of other figures, from Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 to Hannibal and Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1974 he was selected to be a representative in the commemorations for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ayacucho
Battle of Ayacucho
The Battle of Ayacucho was a decisive military encounter during the Peruvian War of Independence. It was the battle that sealed the independence of Peru, as well as the victory that ensured independence for the rest of South America...

 in Peru, the conflict in which Simon Bolívar's lieutenant, Antonio José de Sucre
Antonio José de Sucre
Antonio José de Sucre y Alcalá , known as the "Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho" , was a Venezuelan independence leader. Sucre was one of Simón Bolívar's closest friends, generals and statesmen.-Ancestry:...

, defeated royalist forces during the Peruvian War of Independence. It was in Peru that Chávez heard the leftist president, General Juan Velasco Alvarado
Juan Velasco Alvarado
Juan Francisco Velasco Alvarado was a left-leaning Peruvian General who ruled Peru from 1968 to 1975 under the title of "President of the Revolutionary Government."- Early life :...

 (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 [Velasco had written], even memorising some speeches almost completely." Befriending the son of Panamanian President Omar Torrijos
Omar Torrijos
Omar Efraín Torrijos Herrera was the Commander of the Panamanian and National Guard and the de facto leader of Panama from 1968 to 1981...

 (1929–1981), another leftist military general, Chávez subsequently visited Panama, where he met with Torrijos, and was impressed with his land reform program that was designed to benefit the peasants. Being heavily influenced by both Torrijos and Velasco, he saw the potential for military generals to seize control of a government when the civilian authorities were perceived as only serving the interests of the wealthy elites. In contrast to military presidents like Torrijos and Velasco however, Chávez became highly critical of Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

, the right-wing general who had recently seized control in Chile with the aid of the American CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

. Chávez would later relate that "With Torrijos, I became a Torrijist. With Velasco I became a Velasquist. And with Pinochet, I became an anti-Pinochetist." In 1975, Chávez graduated from the military academy, being rated one of the top graduates of the year (eight out of seventy five).

Early military career: 1976–1981


Following his graduation, Chávez was stationed as a communications officer at a counterinsurgency unit in Barinas, although the Marxist-Leninist
Leninism
In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism...

 insurgency which the army was sent to combat had already been eradicated from that state, leaving the unit with much spare time. Chávez himself played in a local baseball team, wrote a column for the local newspaper, organized bingo games and judged at beauty pageants. At one point he found a stash of Marxist literature that was in an abandoned car riddled with bullet holes. Apparently having belonged to insurgents many years before, he went on to read these books, which included titles by such theoreticians as Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 and Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

, but his favourite was a work entitled The Times of Ezequiel Zamora, written about the 19th-century federalist general
Ezequiel Zamora
Ezequiel Zamora , 1 February 1817 - 10 January 1860) was a Venezuelan soldier and leader of the Federalists in the Federal War of 1859-1863. His life was marked by the romanticism that characterized liberals of the time....

 whom Chávez had admired as a child. These books further convinced Chávez of the need for a leftist government in Venezuela, later remarking that "By the time I was 21 or 22, I made myself a man of the left."

In 1977, Chávez's unit was transferred to Anzoátegui
Anzoátegui
Anzoátegui State , is one of the 23 component states of Venezuela, located in the northeastern region of the country. Anzoátegui is well known for its beautiful beaches that attract many visitors. Its coast consists of a single beach approximately 100 km long...

, where they were involved in battling the Red Flag Party
Red Flag Party
Red Flag Party is a communist party in Venezuela. It was formed in 1970 by anti-revisionist members of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left...

, a Marxist-Hoxhaist
Hoxhaism
"Hoxhaism" is an informal term used to refer to a variant of anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism that developed in the late 1970s due to a split in the Maoist movement, appearing after the ideological row between the Communist Party of China and the Party of Labour of Albania in 1978.The Albanians...

 insurgency group. 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 both the army and in the civilian government, coming to believe that despite the wealth being produced by the country's oil reserves, Venezuela's poor masses were not receiving their share, something he felt to be inherently un-democratic. In doing so, he began to sympathise with the Red Flag Party and their cause, if not their violent methods.

In 1977, he founded a revolutionary movement within the armed forces, in the hope that he could one day introduce a leftist government to Venezuela: the Venezuelan People's Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación del Pueblo de Venezuela, or ELPV), was a secretive cell within the military that consisted of him and a handful of his fellow soldiers. Although they knew that they wanted a middle way between the right wing policies of the government and the far left position of the Red Flag, they did not have any plans of action for the time being. Nevertheless, hoping to gain an alliance with civilian leftist groups in Venezuela, Chávez then set about clandestinely meeting various prominent Marxists, including Alfredo Maneiro (the founder of the Radical Cause
Radical Cause
The Radical Cause is a working class political party in Venezuela, part of the Venezuelan opposition to president Hugo Chavez...

) and Douglas Bravo
Douglas Bravo
Douglas Bravo is a former guerrilla fighter and Venezuelan politician.Bravo became a member of the Communist Party of Venezuela in 1946, only to be expelled from it in 1964....

, despite having numerous political differences with them. At this time, Chávez married a working class woman named Nancy Colmenares, with whom he would go on to have three children, Rosa Virginia (born September 1978), Maria Gabriela (born March 1980) and Hugo Rafael (born October 1983).

Later military career and the Bolivarian Revolutionary Army-200: 1982–1991


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
Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200
The Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 was the political and social movement that current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez founded in 1982. It eventually planned and executed the February 4, 1992 attempted coup...

 (EBR-200), later redesignated the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200). Taking inspiration from three Venezuelans whom Chávez deeply admired, Ezequiel Zamora
Ezequiel Zamora
Ezequiel Zamora , 1 February 1817 - 10 January 1860) was a Venezuelan soldier and leader of the Federalists in the Federal War of 1859-1863. His life was marked by the romanticism that characterized liberals of the time....

 (1817–1860), Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 (1783–1830) and Simón Rodríguez
Simón Rodríguez
Simón Rodríguez , known during his exile from Spanish America as Samuel Robinson, was a South American philosopher and educator, notably Simón Bolívar's tutor and mentor....

 (1769–1854), these historical figures became known as the "three roots of the tree" of the MBR-200. Later describing the group's foundation, Chávez would state 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 that the Bolivarian Movement would become politically dominant, and on his political ideas at the time, remarked that "This tree [of Bolívar, Zamora and Rodríguez] has to be a circumference, it has to accept all kinds of ideas, from the right, from the left, from the ideological ruins of those old capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 systems." Indeed, Irish political analyst Barry Cannon noted that the early Bolivarian ideology was explicitly capitalist, but that it "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 socialist and communist models of the old Soviet Bloc."
In 1981, Chávez, by now a captain, was assigned to teach at the military academy where he had formerly trained. Here he taught new students about his Bolivarian ideals, and recruited those whom he felt would make good members of the MBR-200, as well as organizing sporting and theatrical events for the students. In his recruiting attempts he was relatively successful, for by the time they had graduated, at least thirty out of 133 cadets had joined it. In 1984 he met a Venezuelan woman of German ancestry named Herma Marksman
Herma Marksman
Herma Marksman is a Venezuelan historian.Marksman was born of a peasant woman and a German immigrant who worked as an ironworker union organizer. When she was in her 30s she met the future Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who was then married and in his twenties. She became his mistress. They...

 who was a recently divorced history teacher. Sharing many interests in common, she eventually got involved in Chávez's movement and the two fell in love, having an affair that would last several years. Another figure to get involved with the movement was Francisco Arias Cárdenas
Francisco Arias Cárdenas
Francisco Javier Arias Cárdenas is a Venezuelan politician and career military officer. He participated in Hugo Chávez' unsuccessful February 1992 coup attempt, being pardoned in 1994 by Rafael Caldera, along with the other conspirators...

, a soldier particularly interested in liberation theology
Liberation theology
Liberation theology is a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions...

. Cárdenas rose to a significant position within the group, although came into ideological conflict with Chávez, who believed that they should begin direct military action in order to overthrow the government, something Cárdenas thought was reckless.

However, some senior military officers became suspicious of Chávez after hearing rumours about the MBR-200. Unable to legally dismiss him without proof, they re-assigned 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
Elorza
Elorza is a small town in Apure State in Venezuela. It is located at and is close to the Colombian border.In August 2001, Venezuela completed a nationwide conversion of land-line phones to three-digit area codes and seven-digit local numbers. Elorza, Mantecal and Bruzual now have the area code 240....

 in Apure State, where he got involved in the local community by organizing social events, and contacted the local indigenous tribal peoples, the Cuiva and Yaruro. Although distrustful due to their mistreatment at the hands of the Venezuelan army in previous decades, Chávez gained their trust by joining the expeditions of an anthropologist
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 to meet with them. His experiences with them would later lead him to introduce laws protecting the rights of indigenous tribal peoples when he gained power many years later. While on holiday, he retraced on foot the route taken by his great-grandfather, the revolutionary Pedro Pérez Delgado
Pedro Pérez Delgado
Pedro Pérez Delgado, better known as Maisanta, was a nineteenth-century Venezuelan revolutionary and politician.The late twentieth and early twenty-first century president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez , grew up being told that Maisanta was his great-great grandfather, and subsequently held a great...

 (known as Maisanta), to understand his family history; on that trip, he met a woman who told Chávez how Maisanta had become a local hero by rescuing an abducted girl. In 1988, after being promoted to the rank of major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

, the high ranking General Rodríguez Ochoa took a liking to Chávez and employed him to be his assistant at his office in Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

.

Operation Zamora: 1992


In 1989, Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez , also known as CAP and often referred to as El Gocho , was a Venezuelan politician, President of Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993. His first presidency was known as the Saudi Venezuela due to its economic and social prosperity thanks to...

 (1922–2010), the candiate of the centrist
Centrism
In politics, centrism is the ideal or the practice of promoting policies that lie different from the standard political left and political right. Most commonly, this is visualized as part of the one-dimensional political spectrum of left-right politics, with centrism landing in the middle between...

 Democratic Action
Democratic Action
Democratic Action is a centrist Venezuelan political party established in 1941. The party and its antecedents played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy, and led the government during Venezuela's first democratic period...

 Party, was elected President after promising to oppose the United States government's Washington Consensus
Washington Consensus
The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by the economist John Williamson to describe a set of ten relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries...

 and the economic cuts imposed by the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF). Nevertheless, he did neither once he got into office, following instead the neoliberal
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 economic policies supported by the United States and the IMF. He dramatically cut social spending, put prominent businessmen in governmental posts, and increased the costs of energy and fuel. Pérez's betrayal produced public outrage and contentious popular actions. In an attempt to stop the widespread protests and looting that followed his social spending cuts, Pérez ordered the violent repression and massacre of protesters known as El Caracazo
Caracazo
The Caracazo or sacudón is the name given to the wave of protests, riots and looting and ensuing massacre that occurred on 27 February 1989 in the Venezuelan capital Caracas and surrounding towns. The riots — the worst in Venezuelan history — resulted in a death toll of anywhere between...

, which "according to official figures ... left a balance of 276 dead, numerous injured, several disappeared and heavy material losses. However, this list was invalidated by the subsequent appearance of mass graves", indicating that the official death count was inadequate. Pérez had used both the DISIP political police and the army to orchestrate El Caracazo. Chávez did not participate in the repression because he was then hospitalized with chicken pox, something for which he would remain be grateful while also condemning the event as "genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

".

Disturbed by the Caracazo, rampant government corruption, the domination of politics by the Venezuelan oligarchy through the Punto Fijo Pact
Punto Fijo Pact
Punto Fijo Pact was a formal arrangement arrived at between representatives of Venezuela's three main political parties in 1958: Acción Democrática, COPEI and Unión Republicana Democrática, for the acceptance of the 1958 presidential elections, and the preservation of the rising democratic regime.-...

, and what he called "the dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

 of the IMF", Chávez began preparing for a military coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, known as Operation Zamora. Initially planned for December, Chávez delayed the MBR-200 coup until the early twilight hours of 4 February 1992. On that date, five army units under Chávez's command moved into urban Caracas with the mission of overwhelming key military and communications installations, including the Miraflores presidential palace, the defense ministry, La Carlota military airport and the Military Museum. Chávez's immediate goal was to intercept and take custody of Pérez, who was returning to Miraflores from an overseas trip. Despite years of planning, the coup quickly encountered trouble. At the time of the coup, Chávez had the loyalty of less than 10% of Venezuela's military forces, and, because of numerous betrayals, defections, errors, and other unforeseen circumstances, Chávez and a small group of rebels found themselves hiding in the Military Museum, without any means of conveying orders to their network of spies and collaborators spread throughout Venezuela. Furthermore, Chávez's allies were unable to broadcast their prerecorded tapes on the national airwaves, during which Chávez planned to issue a general call for a mass civilian uprising against the Pérez government. Finally, Chávez's forces were unable to capture Pérez, who managed to escape from them. Fourteen soldiers were killed, and fifty soldiers and some eighty civilians injured during the ensuing violence.
Realising that the coup had failed, Chávez gave himself up to the government. On the condition that he called upon the remaining active coup members to cease hostilities, he was allowed to appear on national television, something that he insisted on doing in his military uniform. During this address, he invoked the name of national hero Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 and declared to the Venezuelan people that "Comrades: unfortunately, for now, the objectives we had set for ourselves were not achieved in the capital city. That is, those of us here in Caracas did not seize power. Where you are, you have performed very well, but now is the time for a reflect. New opportunities will arise and the country has to head definitively toward a better future." Many viewers noted that Chávez had remarked that he had only failed "por ahora" (for now), and he was immediately catapulted into the national spotlight, with many Venezuelans, particularly those from the poorer sections of society, seeing him as a figure who had stood up against government corruption and kleptocracy
Kleptocracy
Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest...

.

Chávez was arrested and imprisoned at the San Carlos military stockade, where he remained wracked with guilt, feeling responsible for the coup's failure, despite his growing popular support amongst the civilian population. Indeed, pro-Chávez demonstrations that took place outside of San Carlos led to him being transferred to Yare prison soon after. The government meanwhile began a temporary crackdown on media supportive of Chávez and the coup. A further attempted coup against the government occurred in November, which was once more defeated, although Pérez himself was impeached a year later for malfeasance and misappropriation of funds for illegal activities.

Political rise: 1992–1998


Whilst Chávez and the other senior members of the MBR-200 were in prison, his relationship with Herma Marksman
Herma Marksman
Herma Marksman is a Venezuelan historian.Marksman was born of a peasant woman and a German immigrant who worked as an ironworker union organizer. When she was in her 30s she met the future Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who was then married and in his twenties. She became his mistress. They...

 broke up in July 1993. She would subsequently become "a bitter critic of Chávez, whose supporters wondered how much of her anger was stoked by their failed romance." In 1994, Rafael Caldera
Rafael Caldera
Rafael Antonio Caldera Rodríguez was president of Venezuela from 1969 to 1974 and again from 1994 to 1999.Caldera taught sociology and law at various universities before entering politics. He was a founding member of COPEI, Venezuela's Christian Democratic party...

 (1916–2009) of the centrist National Convergence
National Convergence
The National Convergence is a conservative/Christian democratic political party in Venezuela. It was founded in 1993 by former President of Venezuela Rafael Caldera, successfully gaining a second term in the Venezuelan presidential election, 1993. From 1995 to 2004 Eduardo Lapi held the...

 Party was elected to the presidency, and soon after taking power, freed Chávez and the other imprisoned MBR-200 members as per his pre-election pledge. Caldera had however imposed upon them the condition that they would not return to the military, where they could potentially organise another coup. After being mobbed by adoring crowds following his release, Chávez went on a 100 day tour of the country, promoting his Bolivarian cause of social revolution. Now living off a small military pension as well as the donations of his supporters, he continued to financially support his three children and their mother despite divorcing Nancy Colmenares around this period. On his tours around the country, he would meet Marisabel Rodríguez
Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez
Marisabel Rodríguez Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist, publicist and radio announcer. She is best known for having been the second wife of current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.- Early life :...

, who would give birth to their daughter shortly before becoming his second wife in 1997.

Travelling around Latin America in search of foreign support for his Bolivarian movement, he visited Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, and finally Cuba, where the Marxist-Leninist President Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 (1926–) organised to meet him. After spending several days in one another's company, Chávez and Castro became friends, with the former describing the Cuban President as being like a father to him. Returning to Venezuela, Chávez failed to gain mainstream media attention for his political cause, something his supporters believed was partially down to the fact that the mainstream media was owned and controlled by the wealthy oligarchy that Chávez himself was so opposed to. Instead, he gained publicity from small, local-based newspapers and media outlets. As a part of his condemnation of the ruling class, Chávez became critical of President Caldera, whose neoliberal economic policies had caused inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

, and who had both suspended constitutional guarantees and arrested a number of Chávez's supporters. According to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, by 1997, the per capita income for Venezuelan citizens had fallen to US$ 2,858 from US$ 5,192 in 1990, whilst poverty levels had increased by 17.65% since 1980 and homicide and other crime rates had more than doubled since 1986, particularly in Caracas. Coupled with this drop in the standard of living, widespread dissatisfaction with the representative democratic system in Venezuela had "led to gaps emerging between rulers and ruled which favoured the emergence of a populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 leader".

A debate soon developed in the Bolivarian movement as to whether it should try to take power in elections or whether it should instead continue to believe that military action was the only effective way of bringing about political change. Chávez was a keen proponent of the latter view, believing that the oligarchy would never allow him and his supporters to win an election, whilst Francisco Arias Cárdenas
Francisco Arias Cárdenas
Francisco Javier Arias Cárdenas is a Venezuelan politician and career military officer. He participated in Hugo Chávez' unsuccessful February 1992 coup attempt, being pardoned in 1994 by Rafael Caldera, along with the other conspirators...

 instead insisted that they take part in the representative democratic process. Cárdenas himself proved his point when, after joining the Radical Cause
Radical Cause
The Radical Cause is a working class political party in Venezuela, part of the Venezuelan opposition to president Hugo Chavez...

 socialist party, he won the December 1995 election to become governor of the oil-rich Zulia State. Subsequently changing his opinion on the issue, Chávez and his supporters in the Bolivarian movement decided to found their own political party, the Fifth Republic Movement
Fifth Republic Movement
The Fifth Republic Movement was a left-wing, Socialist political party in Venezuela. It was founded in July 1997, following a national congress of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200, to support the candidacy of Hugo Chávez, the current President of Venezuela, in the Venezuelan presidential...

 (MVR—Movimiento Quinta República) in July 1997 in order to support Chávez's candidature in the Venezuelan presidential election, 1998
Venezuelan presidential election, 1998
In the Venezuelan presidential election of 1998, Hugo Chávez was elected to his first term as President of Venezuela with the largest percentage of the popular vote in four decades...

.

1998 election


At the start of the election run-up, most polls gave Irene Sáez, then-mayor of Caracas' richest district, Chacao, the lead. Although an independent candidate, she had the backing of one of Venezuela's two primary political parties, Copei
COPEI
Copei – Social Christian Party of Venezuela is a third way political party in Venezuela. The name stands for Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente...

. In opposition to her right wing and pro-establishment views, Chávez and his followers described their aim as "laying the foundations of a new republic" to replace the existing one, which they cast as "party-dominated"; the current constitution, they argued, was no more than the "legal-political embodiment of puntofijismo", the country's traditional two-party patronage
Patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

 system. This revolutionary rhetoric gained Chávez and the MVR support from a number of other leftist parties, including the Patria Para Todos (Motherland for All), the Partido Comunist Venezolano
Communist Party of Venezuela
The Communist Party of Venezuela is a Marxist-Leninist political party, and the oldest continuously existing party in Venezuela...

(Venezeuelan Communist Party) and the Movimiento al Socialismo
Movement for Socialism (Venezuela)
Movement for Socialism is a center-left political party in Venezuela.-History:The Movement for Socialism is a social-democratic political party in Venezuela. MAS was founded in 1971 by a faction of the Communist Party of Venezuela, with a view to emphasising a socialist message...

(Movement for Socialism), which together fashioned a political union supporting his candidacy called the Polo Patriotic (Patriotic Pole).

Chávez's promises of widespread social and economic reforms won the trust and favor of a primarily poor and working class following. By May 1998, Chávez's support had risen to 30% in polls, and by August he was registering 39%. Much of his support came from his 'strong man' populist image and charismatic appeal. This rise in popularity worried Chávez's opponents, with the oligarchy-owned mainstream media proceeding to attack him with a series of allegations, which included the claim - which he dismissed as ridiculous - that he was a cannibal
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 who ate children. With his support increasing, and Sáez's decreasing, both the main two political parties, Copei and Democratic Action
Democratic Action
Democratic Action is a centrist Venezuelan political party established in 1941. The party and its antecedents played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy, and led the government during Venezuela's first democratic period...

, put their support behind Henrique Salas Römer
Henrique Salas Römer
Henrique Salas Römer is a Venezuelan capitalist economist , politically active in Venezuela since 1983.-Biography:He was the governor of Carabobo , being succeeded by his son, Henrique Salas Feo...

, a Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

-educated economist who representated the Project Venezuela
Project Venezuela
Project Venezuela is a political party in Venezuela.At the legislative elections, 30 July 2000, the party won 7 out of 165 seats in the National Assembly of Venezuela. The legislative elections of 2006 were boycotted by the party...

 party.

Chávez won the election in a landslide victory
Landslide victory
In politics, a landslide victory is the victory of a candidate or political party by an overwhelming margin in an election...

 with 56.20% of the vote, having gained 3, 673, 685 voted cast in his favour. Salas Römer came second, with 39.97%, whilst the other candidates, including Irene Sáez and Alfaro Ucero, only gained tiny proportions of the vote. Academic analysis of the election showed that Chávez's support had come primarily from the country's poor and the "disenchanted middle class", whose standard of living had decreased rapidly in the previous decade, although at the same time much of the middle and upper class vote had instead gone to Salas Römer. Following the announcement of his victory, Chávez gave a speech in which he declared that "The resurrection of Venezuela has begun, and nothing and no one can stop it."

First Presidential Term: 1999–2000



Chávez's presidential inauguration took place on 2 February 1999, and during the usual presidential oath he deviated from the prescribed words to proclaim that "I swear before 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
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 befitting these new times." He subsequently set about appointing new figures to a number of government posts, including promoting various leftist allies to key positions; he for instance gave one of the founders of MBR, Jesús Urdaneta, the position in charge of the secret police, and made one of the 1992 coup leaders, Hernán Grüber Ódreman, governor of the Federal District of Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

. Chávez also appointed some conservative, centrist and centre-right figures to government positions as well, reappointing Caldera's economy minister Maritza Izaquirre to that same position and also appointing the businessman Roberto Mandini to be president of the state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela. His critics referred to this group of government officials as the "Boliburguesía
Boliburguesía
Boliburguesía is a term describing the new bourgeois created by the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez and Chavismo, made up of people who became rich under the Chavez administration...

" or "Bolivarian bourgeoisie", and highlighted the fact that it "included few people with experience in public administration." He also made several alterations to his presidential privileges, scrapping the presidential limousine, giving away his entire presidential wage of $1,200 a month to a scholarship fund, and selling off many of the government-owned airplanes, although alternately many of his critics accused him of excessive personal expenses for himself, his family and friends. The involvement of a number of his immediate family members in Venezuelan politics has also led to accusations of nepotism
Nepotism
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit. The word nepotism is from the Latin word nepos, nepotis , from which modern Romanian nepot and Italian nipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended....

, something Chávez denies. Meanwhile, in June 2000 he separated from his wife Marisabel, and their divorce was finalised in January 2004.

Although he publicly used strong revolutionary rhetoric from the beginning of his presidency, the Chávez government's initial policies were moderate, capitalist and centre-left, having much in common with those of contemporary Latin American leftists like Brazil's president Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , known popularly as Lula, served as the 35th President of Brazil from 2003 to 2010.A founding member of the Workers' Party , he ran for President three times unsuccessfully, first in the 1989 election. Lula achieved victory in the 2002 election, and was inaugurated as...

. Chávez initially believed that capitalism was still a valid economic model for Venezuela, but that it would have to be Rhenish capitalism or the Third Way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

 that would be followed rather than the neoliberalism
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 which had been implemented under former governments with the encouragement of the United States. He followed the economic guidelines recommended by the capitalist International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 and continued to encourage foreign corporations to invest in Venezuela, even visiting the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

 in the United States in an attempt to convince wealthy investors to do so. To increase his visibility abroad, Chávez spent fifty-two days of his first year as president outside of Venezuela, travelling the world meeting various national leaders, such as American President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, Governor of Texas George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin
Jiang Zemin is a former Chinese politician, who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1989 to 2002, as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, and as Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005...

.

Whilst he was remaining fiscally conservative, he introduced measures in an attempt to alleviate the poverty of the Venezuelan working class. Chávez immediately set into motion a social welfare program called Plan Bolívar 2000
Plan Bolivar 2000
-Implementation of Plan Bolivar:The Plan Bolivar 2000 was a unique idea of Chavez. He wanted it to be implemented in three stages. Pro-Pais which is stage one would involve the armed forces working in the capacity of social service. The Pro-Patria, the second stage, would mean the military helping...

, which he organised to begin on 27 February 1999, the tenth anniversary of the Caracazo massacre. Costing $113,000,000, Plan Bolívar 2000 involved 70,000 army officers going out into the streets of Venezuela where they would repair roads and hospitals, offer free medical care and vaccinations, and sell food at cheap prices. Chávez himself described the Plan by saying that "Ten years ago we came to massacre the people. Now we are going to fill them with love. Go and comb the land, search out and destroy poverty and death. We are going to fill them with love instead of lead." In order to explain his latest thoughts and plans to the Venezuelan people, in May he also launched his own Sunday morning radio show, Aló Presidente
Aló Presidente
Aló Presidente is a largely unscripted talk show hosted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez which is broadcast on Venezuelan state television and radio stations every Sunday at 11:00 AM...

(Hello, President), on the state radio network, as well as a Thursday night television show, De Frente con el Presidente (Face to Face with the President). He followed this with his own newspaper, El Correo del Presidente (The President's Post), founded in July, for which he acted as editor-in-chief, but which was later shut amidst accusations of corruption in its management. In his television and radio shows, he answered calls from citizens, discussed his latest policies, sung songs and told jokes, making it unique not only in Latin America but the entire world.

Constitutional reform


Chávez then called for a public referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 – something virtually unknown in Venezuela at the time – which he hoped would support his plans to form a constitutional assembly
1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela
The 1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was a constitutional convention held in Venezuela in 1999 to draft a new Constitution of Venezuela. The Assembly was endorsed by a referendum in April 1999 which enabled Constituent Assembly elections in July 1999...

, composed of representatives from across Venezuela, as well as from indigenous tribal groups, which would be able to rewrite the nation's constitution. The referendum went ahead on 25 April 1999, and was an overwhelming success for Chávez, with 88% of voters supporting the proposal.

Following this, Chávez called for an election to take place on 25 July, in which the members of the constitutional assembly would be voted into power. Of the 1,171 candidates standing for election to the assembly, over 900 of them were opponents of Chávez, but despite this, his supporters won another overwhelming electoral victory, taking 125 seats (95% of the total), including all of those belonging to indigenous tribal groups, whereas the opposition were voted into only 6 seats. 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 being corrupt or operating only in their own interests. Whilst supporters of the move believed that it could force reforms that had been blocked by corrupt politicians and judicial authorities for years, many opponents of the Chávez regime argued that it gave Chávez and the Bolivarians too much power at the expense of their political opponents, and was therefore dictatorial.

The elected members of the constituent assembly put together a new constitution, and a referendum on the issue of whether to adopt it was held in December 1999; the referendum saw an abstention vote of over 50%, although amongst those voting, 72% approved the new constitution's adoption. The new constitution included increased protections for indigenous peoples and women, and established the rights of the public to education, housing, healthcare and food. It added new environmental protections, and increased requirements for government transparency. It increased the presidential term from five to six years, allowed people to recall
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

 presidents by referendum, and added a new presidential two-term limit. It converted the bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 legislature, a Congress with both a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, into a unicameral
Unicameralism
In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house...

 one comprising only a National Assembly
National Assembly of Venezuela
The National Assembly is the legislative branch of the Venezuelan government. It is a unicameral body made up of a variable number of members, who are elected by "universal, direct, personal, and secret" vote partly by direct election in state-based voting districts, and partly on a state-based...

. The constitution gave greater powers to the president, not only by extending their term but also by giving them the power to legislate on citizen rights as well as the economic and financial matters that they were formerly able to do. It also gave the military a role in the government by providing them with the mandated role of ensuring public order and aiding national development, something they had been expressely forbidden from doing under the former constitution. As a part of the new constitution, the country, which was then officially known as the Republic of Venezuela, was renamed the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (República Bolivariana de Venezuela) at Chávez's request, thereby reflecting the government's ideology of Bolivarianism and the influence of Simón Bolívar on the nation as a whole.

Second Presidential Term: 2000–2006


Under the new constitution, it was legally required that new elections be held in order to relegimatize the government and president. This presidential election in July 2000
Venezuelan presidential election, 2000
A presidential election was held in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on July 30, 2000. This was the first election held under Venezuela's newly adopted 1999 constitution.-Results:...

 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. 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
Francisco Arias Cárdenas
Francisco Javier Arias Cárdenas is a Venezuelan politician and career military officer. He participated in Hugo Chávez' unsuccessful February 1992 coup attempt, being pardoned in 1994 by Rafael Caldera, along with the other conspirators...

, who since becoming governor of Zulia state had turned towards the political centre and begun to denounce Chávez as autocratic. 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
Special Period
The Special Period in Time of Peace in Cuba was an extended period of economic crisis that began in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and, by extension, the Comecon. The economic depression of the Special Period was at its most severe in the early-to-mid 1990s before slightly declining...

" of the 1990s. 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
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 in retaliation for the September 11 attacks against the U.S. by Islamist militants, Chávez showed pictures of Afghan children killed in a bomb attack on his television show. He commented that "They are not to blame for the terrorism of Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 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.

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. 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.
Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.
Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. is the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company. It has activities in exploration, production, refining and exporting oil, as well as exploration and production of natural gas...

 (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.

Growing opposition and the CD


During Chávez's first term in office, the opposition movement had been "strong but reasonably contained, [with] complaints centring mainly on procedural aspects of the implementation of the constitution". However, 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. 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. That year, an organization known as the Coordinadora Democrática de Acción Cívica (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
Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce
The Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce or Fedecámaras is composed of chambers of commerce in twelve basic trade groups: banking, agriculture, commerce, construction, energy, manufacturing, media, mining, ranching, insurance, transportation, and tourism.In practice, the intended...

, the Frente Institucional Militar and the Central Workers Union all united to oppose Chávez's regime. The prominent multimillionaire businessman Pedro Carmona
Pedro Carmona
Pedro Francisco Carmona Estanga is a former Venezuelan trade organization leader who was briefly declared President of Venezuela during an abortive 2002 military coup against Hugo Chávez. He occupied the office of President from April 12 to April 13...

 (1941–) was chosen as the CD's leader. They received support from various foreign sources, including from the United States government, which disliked the Bolivarian government's implementation of the new Hydrocarbons Law, and which funded the CD through the state-funded National Endowment for Democracy
National Endowment for Democracy
The National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is a U.S. non-profit organization that was founded in 1983 to promote US-friendly democracy by providing cash grants funded primarily through an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress...

.
The CD and other opponents of Chávez's Bolivarian government accused it of trying to turn Venezuela from a democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 into a dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

 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
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

" whose policies were detrimental to the country. For instance, Venezuelan lawyer and academic Allan R. Brewer-Carías, a prominent and vocal opponent of Chávez, made the claim that under his regime the country had "suffered a tragic setback regarding democratic standards, suffering a continuous, persistent and deliberate process of demolishing institutions and destroying democracy, which has never before been experienced in the constitutional history of the country." Other academics have argued that the opposite was true, and that "the Chávez government is in fact more democratic than previous ones" because of the increased checks and balances introduced by the 1999 constitution and the introduction of workers' councils.

The pro-Chávez political analyst Gregory Wilpert argued, in his study of the Bolivarian administration, that the opposition movement was dominated primarily by members of the middle and upper classes. He further argued that this wealthy elite was particularly furious at the Bolivarian government because they themselves had lost much of their dominance over Venezuelan politics with the introduction of the 1999 constitution and the relegitamization of all areas of government that it required. He went on to argue that this wealthy elite subsequently used its control of the country's mass media to create an anti-Chávez campaign aimed primarily at the middle classes, stirring up the latent racism and classism that existed in Venezuelan culture. One of the most prominent examples of this was through the popularization of the racist term ese mono ("that monkey") which began to be applied to Chávez by his opponents, who would also often accuse him of being "vulgar and common". Both Venezuelan and Western opposition media also characterized Chávez's supporters, who were known as the Chávistas, as being "young, poor, politically unsophisticated, antidemocratic masses" who were controlled, funded and armed by the state, and they were regularly referred to as "hordes" in opposition media discourse, which also commonly referred to the Bolivarian Circles as "terror circles". Such descriptions have been refuted by certain academics, such as Cristóbal Valencia Ramírez, who, after studying Chavista groups, have argued that they consist of people from many classes of society, and are educated and largely non-violent. Chavista-run organizations have since claimed to have been the target of violent attacks from opposition groups: for instance, the Ezequiel Zamora National Farmers' Coordinator estimated that 50 Chavista leaders involved in the land-reform program had been assassinated during 2002 and 2003.

Coup, strikes and the recall referendum


On 11 April 2002, mass protests took place in Caracas against the Bolivarian government, during which guns were fired, and violence ensued involving both pro- and anti-Chávez supporters, the police and the army. Twenty people were killed and over 110 were wounded. A group of high ranking anti-Chávez military officers, likely supported by figures in the business community, media and certain political parties, 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 step down, and was transferred by army escort to La Orchila
La Orchila
La Orchila is a military base off the coast of Venezuela, north of Caracas. It has numerous beaches, including one where the sand is markedly pink ....

, and although he requested to be allowed to leave the country, he refused to officially resign from the presidency at the time. Nonetheless, the wealthy business-leader Pedro Carmona
Pedro Carmona
Pedro Francisco Carmona Estanga is a former Venezuelan trade organization leader who was briefly declared President of Venezuela during an abortive 2002 military coup against Hugo Chávez. He occupied the office of President from April 12 to April 13...

 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 many felt was implementing totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 measures, led to Carmona's resignation and Chávez was returned to power on 14 April.

Chávez's reaction to the coup attempt 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.
Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.
Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. is the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company. It has activities in exploration, production, refining and exporting oil, as well as exploration and production of natural gas...

 (PDVSA), whose replacement had been one of the reasons for the coup. At the same time, the Bolivarian government began preparing for potential future uprisings or even a US invasion by increasing the country's military capacity, purchasing 100,000 AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

 assault rifles and several helicopters from Russia, as well as a number of Super Tucano light attack planes from Brazil. Troop numbers were also increased, with Chávez announcing in 2005 the government's intention to increase the number of military reserves from 50,000 to 2,000,000.

In December 2002, the Chávez presidency faced a two-month management strike at the PdVSA when he initiated management changes. As Wilpert noted, "While the opposition labelled this action a 'general strike', it was actually a combination of management lockout, administrative and professional employee strike, and general sabotage of the oil industry." The Chávez government's response was to fire about 19,000 striking employees for illegally abandoning their posts, and then employing retired workers, foreign contractors and the military to do their jobs instead. This move further damaged the strength of Chávez's opposition by removing the many managers in the oil industry who had been supportive of their cause to overthrow Chávez.

Following the failure of these two attempts to remove Chávez from power, the opposition finally resorted to legal means in order to try to do so. The 1999 constitution had introduced the concept of a recall referendum into Venezuelan politics, and so the opposition called for such a referendum to take place. 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. 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". Meanwhile, some figures in the opposition movement began calling for the United States military to intervene and invade the country in order to topple Chávez.

"Socialism of the 21st Century"


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
Socialism of the 21st century
Socialism of the 21st century is a political term and a slogan coined by Heinz Dieterich in 1996. It was used by Hugo Chávez during a speech at the World Social Forum of 2005 and it has been publicised actively by Dieterich worldwide since 2000, especially in Latin America.-Bolivarian...

", something that was distinct from his earlier forms of Bolivarianism, which had been social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 in nature, merging elements of capitalism and socialism. He used this new term to contrast the democratic socialism
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

 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.

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. The leftist Mayor of London Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
Kenneth Robert "Ken" Livingstone is an English politician who is currently a member of the centrist to centre-left Labour Party...

 welcomed him, describing him as "the best news out of Latin America in many years".

Third Presidential Term: 2006–present


In the presidential election of December 2006
Venezuelan presidential election, 2006
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela held presidential elections on 3 December 2006, to choose a president for the six-year term to begin on 10 January 2007...

, which saw a 74% voter turnout, Chávez was once more elected, this time with 63% of the vote, beating his closest challenger Manuel Rosales
Manuel Rosales
Manuel Antonio Rosales Guerrero is a Venezuelan educator and politician and was the most prominent opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential election, losing to incumbent Hugo Chávez...

, who conceded his loss. The election was certified as being free and legitimate by the Organization of American States
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

 (OAS) and the Carter Center
Carter Center
The Carter Center is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter. In partnership with Emory University, The Carter Center works to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering...

. After this victory, Chávez promised an "expansion of the revolution."

United Socialist Party of Venezuela and domestic policy


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
United Socialist Party of Venezuela
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela is the name of a democratic socialist political party in Venezuela which resulted from the fusion of some of the political and social forces that support the Bolivarian Revolution led by incumbent President Hugo Chávez...

 (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV). 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 [of 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 rising to 5.7 million people by 2007, making it the largest political group in Venezuela. The United Nations' International Labour Organization
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

 however expressed concern over some voters being pressured to join the party.

In 2007, the Bolivarian government set up a constitutional commission in order to review the 1999 constitution and suggest potential amendments to be made to it. Led by the prominent pro-Chávez intellectual Luis Britto García
Luis Britto García
Luis Britto García , is a Venezuelan writer, playwright and essayist. His narrative has been awarded twice with the Casa de Las Américas Prize, for his works Rajatabla and Abrapalabra . In 2002 was prizewinner of the National Prize for Literature...

, the commission came to the conclusion that the constitution could include more socially progressive clauses, such as the shortening of the working week, a constitutional recognition of Afro Venezuelans
Afro Venezuelans
Afro-Venezuelan are descendants of Africans in Venezuela. They are estimated to be at 5 million and tend to cluster in Barlovento in Miranda State, although they can be found all over the country. Afro-Venezuelans are hard to identify due to strong racial admixture in the population...

 and the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

. It also suggested measures that would have increased many of the president's powers, for instance increasing the presidential term limit to seven years, allowing the president to run for election indefinitely and centralizing powers in the executive. The government put the suggested changes to a public referendum in December 2007
Venezuelan constitutional referendum, 2007
A constitutional referendum was held in Venezuela on 2 December 2007 to amend 69 articles of the 1999 Constitution. Reform was needed, according to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, to implement his socialist agenda; detractors said he was using the reforms to become a dictator.The referendum was...

. Abstention rate was high however, with 43.95% of registered voters not turning out, and in the end the proposed changes were rejected by 50.65% of votes. This would prove to the first electoral loss that Chávez had faced in the thirteen electoral contests held since he took power, something analysts argued was due to the top-down nature of the changes, as well as general public dissatisfaction with "the absence of internal debate on its content, as well as dissatisfaction with the running of the social programmes, increasing street crime, and with corruption within the government."

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. Under the 1999 constitution, he could not legally stand for re-election again, and so brought about a referendum on 15 February 2009
Venezuelan constitutional referendum, 2009
The 2009 referendum was a vote in which the citizens of Venezuela approved Amendment No. 1 of the Constitution of Venezuela; this abolished term limits for the offices of President, state governors, mayors and National Assembly deputies.The current constitution, enacted in 1999 by referendum,...

 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.

Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and the Bank of the South


The Bolivarian government placed a great emphasis on providing financial and medical aid to the rest of Latin America, bolstered by the profits produced by the Venezuela oil industry: indeed, in the first eight months of 2007 alone, Venezuela spent $8.8 billion in doing so, something which was "unprecedented for a Latin American country" in terms of scale. Adding to this, the Chávez administration sought greater political, economic and military alliances with those Latin American countries who had seen leftist, and in particular socialist governments elected in the early 21st century. The widespread success of left-leaning candidates at the time had led to what political analysts have described as a "pink tide
Pink tide
Pink tide is a term being used in contemporary 21st century political analysis in the media and elsewhere to describe the perception that Leftist ideology in general, and Left-wing politics in particular, is increasingly influential in Latin America.In 2005, the BBC reported that out of 350...

" sweeping the region, although there was a great deal of diversity within this leftist trend. Those that became the closest allies of Bolivarian Venezuela were Evo Morales
Evo Morales
Juan Evo Morales Ayma , popularly known as Evo , is a Bolivian politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party and the cocalero trade union...

 and his Movement for Socialism, which was elected into power in Bolivia in 2005, and Rafael Correa
Rafael Correa
Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado born is the President of the Republic of Ecuador and was the president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations. An economist educated in Ecuador, Belgium and the United States, he was elected President in late 2006 and took office in January 2007...

 and his PAIS Alliance, who won the election in Ecuador in 2006.

In 2007, the socialist Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

 and his Sandinista National Liberation Front
Sandinista National Liberation Front
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

 were elected into government in Nicaragua, and his administration immediately entered into deals with the Venezuelan government. On Ortega's first day in power, Chávez announced plans to aid the impoverished Central American country by forgiving the $30 million it owed Venezuela, and agreed to supply them with a further gift of $10 million in aid, as well as providing them with a $20 million loan with little or no interest designed to benefit the country's poor.

In 2004, Venezuela had been one of the founding states in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

As of September 26, 2009, Chávez, along with allies such as Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, has set up a regional bank and development lender called Bank of the South, based in Caracas, an attempt to distance himself from financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

. Chávez first mentioned the project before winning the Presidential election in 1998. Chávez maintains that unlike other global financial organizations, the Bank of the South will be managed and funded by the countries of the region with the intention of funding social and economic development without any political conditions on that funding. The project is endorsed by Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 winning, former World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 economist Joseph Stiglitz, who said: "One of the advantages of having a Bank of the South is that it would reflect the perspectives of those in the south," and that "It is a good thing to have competition in most markets, including the market for development lending."

As the Arab Spring
Arab Spring
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

 erupted across North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, Chávez openly criticised those leaders who had been backed by the U.S., such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak is a former Egyptian politician and military commander. He served as the fourth President of Egypt from 1981 to 2011....

, but at the same time championed those who had adhered to Arab socialist
Arab socialism
Arab socialism is a political ideology based on an amalgamation of Pan-Arabism and socialism. Arab socialism is distinct from the much broader tradition of socialist thought in the Arab world, which predates Arab socialism by as much as fifty years...

 ideals, such as Syria's Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

, whom he called "a humanist and a brother" in spite of Assad's government's violent crackdown on protesters. Following the outbreak of the 2011 Libyan civil war
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

, in which forces opposed to the socialist government rose up against the regime, Chávez, who had always had good international relations with Libya - describing its ceremonial leader Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 as "a friend of mine" - offered to act as an intermediary between the government and the rebel-controlled National Transitional Council
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

 (NTC), however the latter declined the offer. During the subsequent 2011 military intervention in Libya
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

, in which western forces attacked the Libyan army in support of the NTC, Chávez criticised the "indiscriminate bombing" of the country, accusing the United States of simply trying to "lay its hands on Libya's oil". Upon the killing of Muammar al-Gaddafi
Death of Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya, died on 20 October 2011 during the 2011 Libyan civil war. Gaddafi was captured alive after his convoy was attacked by NATO warplanes as Sirte fell on 20 October 2011. He was then beaten and killed by NTC forces...

 at the hands of NTC fighters in October 2011, Chávez proclaimed that "We shall remember Gaddafi our whole lives as a great fighter, a revolutionary and a martyr. They assassinated him. It is another outrage."

Cancer and further nationalisation


On June 30, 2011, Chávez confirmed in a televised address from Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, Cuba that he was recovering from a June 10 operation to remove an abscessed tumor with cancerous cells. Vice President Elías Jaua
Elías Jaua
-External links: "", World Investment News, 11 September 2006...

 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. A July 2 report in El Periódico de Catalunya
El Periódico de Catalunya
El Periódico de Catalunya is a morning daily newspaper based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain and owned by Grupo Zeta. El Periódico is actually two newspapers, publishing separate editions in Spanish and in Catalan...

reported that, according to Venezuelan diplomatic sources, Chávez had "colon cancer
Colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer, commonly known as bowel cancer, is a cancer caused by uncontrolled cell growth , in the colon, rectum, or vermiform appendix. Colorectal cancer is clinically distinct from anal cancer, which affects the anus....

 that has perforated the intestinal wall and has caused an infection in the abdomen." On July 3, the Venezuelan government denied, however, that Chávez had colon cancer, and stated that the tumour had been completely removed, further stating that Chávez was heading for "complete recovery". On July 17, 2011, television news reported that Chavez had returned to Cuba for further cancer treatments.

Chávez gave a public appearance on his 57th birthday in which he stated that his health trouble had led him to radically reorientate 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. Soon after this speech, in August Chávez announced that his government would nationalise Venezuela's gold industry, taking it over from Russian-controlled company Rusoro, whilst 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.

Political philosophy



Hugo Chávez defines his political position as Bolivarianism, an ideology developed by himself which is heavily influenced by the writings of Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 (1783–1830), a 19th-century general who led the fight against the imperialist
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 Spanish authorities, and who is widely revered across Latin America today. Along with Bolívar, the other two primary influences upon Bolivarianism are Simón Rodríguez
Simón Rodríguez
Simón Rodríguez , known during his exile from Spanish America as Samuel Robinson, was a South American philosopher and educator, notably Simón Bolívar's tutor and mentor....

 (1769–1854), a philosopher who was Bolívar's tutor and mentor, and Ezequiel Zamora
Ezequiel Zamora
Ezequiel Zamora , 1 February 1817 - 10 January 1860) was a Venezuelan soldier and leader of the Federalists in the Federal War of 1859-1863. His life was marked by the romanticism that characterized liberals of the time....

, (1817–1860), the Venezuelan Federalist general. Political analyst Gregory Wilpert, in his study of Chávez's politics, noted that "The key ingredients for Chávez's revolutionary Bolivarianism can be summarized as: an emphasis on the importance of education, the creation of civilian-military unity, Latin American integration, social justice, and national sovereignty. In many ways this is not a particularly different set of principles and ideas to those of any other Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 or national liberation thinker."

Although he has been a leftist ever since his days at the military academy, since becoming president Chávez's political position has progressed further left, rejecting capitalist leftist ideologies like social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 or the Third Way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

 and instead embracing socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

. He has propagated what he calls "socialism for the 21st century
Socialism of the 21st century
Socialism of the 21st century is a political term and a slogan coined by Heinz Dieterich in 1996. It was used by Hugo Chávez during a speech at the World Social Forum of 2005 and it has been publicised actively by Dieterich worldwide since 2000, especially in Latin America.-Bolivarian...

", but according to Gregory Wilpert, "Chávez has not clearly defined twenty-first century socialism, other than to say that it is about establishing liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

, equality
Egalitarianism
Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

, social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

, and solidarity
Solidarity
Solidarity is a Polish trade union federation that emerged on August 31, 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa. It was the first non-communist party-controlled trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. Solidarity reached 9.5 million members before its September 1981 congress...

. He has also indicated that it is distinctly different from state socialism
State socialism
State socialism is an economic system with limited socialist characteristics, such as public ownership of major industries, remedial measures to benefit the working class, and a gradual process of developing socialism through government policy...

", as implemented by the governments of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. As a part of his socialist ideas, he has emphasised the role of participatory democracy
Participatory democracy
Participatory Democracy, also known as Deliberative Democracy, Direct Democracy and Real Democracy , is a process where political decisions are made directly by regular people...

, which he has implemented through the foundation of the Venezuelan Communal Councils
Venezuelan Communal Councils
In April 2006 the Venezuelan government passed The Law of Communal Councils which empowers local citizens to form neighbourhood-based elected councils that initiate and oversee local policies and projects towards community development...

 and Bolivarian Circles
Bolivarian Circles
The Bolivarian Circles are a loosely-knit political and social organization of workers' councils in Venezuela originally begun by President Hugo Chávez in 2001. They are named in honor of Simón Bolívar, the leader who transformed most of South America from Spanish colonial outposts to the...

 which he cites as examples of grassroots and participatory democracy.
Chávez is well acquainted with the various traditions of Latin American socialism, espoused by such figures as Colombian politician Jorge Eliécer Gaitán
Jorge Eliécer Gaitán
Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala was a politician, a leader of a populist movement in Colombia, a former Education Minister and Labor Minister , mayor of Bogotá and one of the most charismatic leaders of the Liberal Party.He was assassinated during his second presidential campaign in 1948, setting off...

, former Chilean president Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende Gossens was a Chilean physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America....

, former Peruvian president Juan Velasco Alvarado
Juan Velasco Alvarado
Juan Francisco Velasco Alvarado was a left-leaning Peruvian General who ruled Peru from 1968 to 1975 under the title of "President of the Revolutionary Government."- Early life :...

, former Panamanian president Omar Torrijos
Omar Torrijos
Omar Efraín Torrijos Herrera was the Commander of the Panamanian and National Guard and the de facto leader of Panama from 1968 to 1981...

 and the Cuban revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

aries Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

 and Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

. Other indirect influences on Chávez's political philosophy are the writings of American linguist Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 and the Gospel teachings of Jesus Christ.

Chávez's connection to Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 is a complex one. In May 1996, he gave an interview with Agustín Blanco Muñoz in which he remarked that "I am not a Marxist, but I am not anti-Marxist. I am not communist, but I am not anti-communist." He is, however, well versed in many Marxist texts, having read the works of many Marxist theoreticians, and has often publicly quoted them. Various international Marxists have 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
Trotskyism
Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky considered himself an orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik-Leninist, arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party of the working-class...

 of Marxist Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

, saying "When I called him (former Minister of Labour, José Ramón Rivero
José Ramón Rivero
José Ramón Rivero is a Venezuelan politician. He was the Minister of Work and Social Security from January 2007, replacing Ricardo Dorado, to April 2008. He was replaced by Roberto Manuel Hernández. The decision was related to Rivero's handling of the long-running negotiations between SIDOR's...

)" 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 Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Lenin.

Economic and social policy


Venezuela is a major producer of oil products, which remains the keystone of the Venezuelan economy. Chávez has 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 has "increas[ed] from 51% of total income in 2000 to 56% 2006"; oil exports "have grown from 77% in 1997 [...] to 89% in 2006"; and "this dependence on oil is one of the chief problems facing the Chávez government". The economist Mark Weisbrot
Mark Weisbrot
Mark Weisbrot is an American economist, columnist and co-director, with Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. As a commentator, he contributes to publications such as New York Times, the UK's The Guardian, and Brazil's largest newspaper, Folha de S...

, in an analysis of the Chávez administration, said: "The current economic expansion began when the government got control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003. Since then, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP has nearly doubled, growing by 94.7 percent in 5.25 years, or 13.5 percent annually." For the year 2009, the Venezuelan economy shrank by an average of 2.9% due to the global recession. Chávez has stated that the Venezuelan economy will most likely continue shrinking throughout 2010, citing both the IMF and World Bank. Chávez sees the economic crisis as "an opportunity for socialism to spread and take root..". According to Ian James, citing estimates from the Venezuelan Central Bank, the Venezuelan government "controls" the same percentage of the economy as when Chávez was elected in 1998, with "the private sector still control[ling] two-thirds of Venezuela's economy".

Since Chávez was elected in 1998, over 100,000 worker-owned cooperatives—representing approximately 1.5 million people—have been formed with the assistance of government start-up credit and technical training; and the creation and maintenance, as of September 2010, of over 30,000 communal councils, examples of localised participatory democracy; which he intended to be integration into regional umbrella organizations known as "Communes in Construction". In 2010, Chávez supported the construction of 184 communes, housing thousands of families, with $23 million in government funding. The communes produce some of their own food, and are able to make decisions by popular assembly of what to do with government funds. 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. 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.

Chávez has also supported the creation of a series of Bolivarian Missions
Bolivarian Missions
The Bolivarian Missions are a series of social justice, social welfare, anti-poverty, educational, electoral and military recruiting programs implemented under the administration of the current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez...

 aimed at providing public services to improve economic, cultural, and social conditions. A 2010 OAS report indicated achievements in addressing illiteracy, healthcare and poverty, and economic and social advances.

Barry Cannon writes that "most areas of spending have increased". "[S]pending on education as a percentage of GDP stood at 5.1% in 2006, as opposed to 3.4% in the last year of the Caldera government." Spending on health "has increased from 1.6% of GDP in 2000 to 7.71% in 2006". Spending on housing "receives low public support", increasing only "from 1% in GDP to 1.6% in 2006". Teresa A. Meade, writes that Chávez's popularity "rests squarely on the lower classes who have benefited from these health initiatives and similar policies [...] poverty rates fell from 42 to 34 percent from 2000 to 2006, still leaving over 30 percent in this oil-rich nation below the poverty line".

The Center for Economic and Policy Research
Center for Economic and Policy Research
The Center for Economic and Policy Research is a progressive economic policy think-tank based in Washington, DC, founded in 1999. CEPR works on Social Security, the US housing bubble, developing country economies , and gaps in the social policy fabric of the US economy.According to its own...

 (CEPR) reports that the Venezuelan economy grew on average by 11.85% in the period 2004–2007. According to The Washington Post, citing statistics from the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, poverty in Venezuela stood at 28% in 2008, down from 55.44% in 1998 before Chávez got into office. Economist Mark Weisbrot
Mark Weisbrot
Mark Weisbrot is an American economist, columnist and co-director, with Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. As a commentator, he contributes to publications such as New York Times, the UK's The Guardian, and Brazil's largest newspaper, Folha de S...

 found that, "During the ... economic expansion, the poverty rate [was] cut by more than half, from 54 percent of households in the first half of 2003 to 26 percent at the end of 2008. Extreme poverty has fallen even more, by 72 percent. These poverty rates measure only cash income, and does take into account increased access to health care or education."

Human rights


In the 1999 Venezuelan constitution
Constitution of Venezuela
||The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the current and twenty-sixth constitution of Venezuela. It was drafted in mid-1999 by a constitutional assembly that had been created by popular referendum. Adopted in December 1999, it replaced the 1961 Constitution - the longest...

, 116 of 300 articles were concerned with human rights; these included increased protections for indigenous peoples and women, and established the rights of the public to education, housing, healthcare, and food. It called for dramatic democratic reforms such as ability to recall politicians from office by popular referendum, increased requirements for government transparency, and numerous other requirements to increase localized, participatory democracy, in favor of centralized administration. It gave citizens the right to timely and impartial information, community access to media, and a right to participate in acts of civil disobedience.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 has criticized the Chávez administration for targeting critics following several politically motivated arrests. Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

 lists Venezuela as being "partly free" in its 2009 Freedom in the World annual report, claiming that women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 and indigenous rights
Indigenous rights
Indigenous rights are those rights that exist in recognition of the specific condition of the indigenous peoples. This includes not only the most basic human rights of physical survival and integrity, but also the preservation of their land, language, religion and other elements of cultural...

 have improved, but that press freedom has been threatened. A 2010 Organization of American States
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

 report found concerns with freedom of expression, human rights abuses, authoritarianism, press freedom, threats to democracy, as well as erosion of separation of powers, the economic infrastructure and ability of the president to appoint judges to federal courts. OAS observors were denied access to Venezuela; Chávez rejected the OAS report, pointing out that its authors did not even come to Venezuela. He said Venezuela should boycott the OAS, which he feels is dominated by the United States; a spokesperson said, "We don't recognize the commission as an impartial institution". He disclaims any power to influence the judiciary. A Venezuelan official said the report distorts and takes statistics out of context, saying that "human rights violations in Venezuela have decreased". Venezuela has said it will not accept an IACHR/OAS visit as long as Santiago Cantón remains its Executive Secretary, unless the IACHR apologizes for what he describes as its support of the 2002 coup.

In 2008, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 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, but notes a "wide range of government policies that have undercut the human rights protections established" by the revised constitution. In particular, the report accuses 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 report also mentioned improvements in women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 and indigenous rights
Indigenous rights
Indigenous rights are those rights that exist in recognition of the specific condition of the indigenous peoples. This includes not only the most basic human rights of physical survival and integrity, but also the preservation of their land, language, religion and other elements of cultural...

. Subsequently, over a hundred Latin American scholars signed a joint letter with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs is a Washington, D.C.-based non-governmental organization founded in 1975. In its own words, it was established to "promote the common interests of the [Western] hemisphere, raise the visibility of regional affairs and increase the importance of the...

 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. The International Labor Organization of the United Nations expressed concern over voters being pressured to join the party.

Venezuelan Judge Maria Afiuni was arrested in 2009 on charges of corruption, after she ordered the conditional release on bail of banker Eligio Cedeño, who had been held on charges of fraud and other crimes due to alleged illegal currency trading activities. Some human rights officials allege the arrest was politically motivated; Cedeño "had been in pretrial detention for nearly three years, despite a two-year limit prescribed by Venezuelan law". Cedeño later fled to the U.S. to avoid prosecution. Following Afiuni's arrest, several groups, including the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States .Along with the...

, the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

, the Law Society of England and Wales
Law Society of England and Wales
The Law Society is the professional association that represents the solicitors' profession in England and Wales. It provides services and support to practising and training solicitors as well as serving as a sounding board for law reform. Members of the Society are often consulted when important...

, the U.S. Department of State, and the European Union Parliament accused Chávez of "creating a climate of fear" among Venezuela's legal profession. The European Parliament called this "an attack on the independence of the judiciary by the President of a nation, who should be its first guarantor". A director of Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 said, "Once again the Chávez government has demonstrated its fundamental disregard for the principle of judicial independence."

Media and the press



The large majority of mass media in Venezuela is privately owned. As of 2007, private corporations controlled 80% of the cable television channels, 100% of the newspaper companies, and 706 out of 709 radio stations.

The Venezuelan government has required that all private television stations dedicate at least 25% of their airtime to programs created by community groups, non-profits, and other independent producers. In July 2005 Chávez inaugurated TeleSUR
TeleSUR
La Nueva Televisora del Sur is a pan-Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. TeleSUR was launched with the objective of providing information to promote the integration of Latin America....

, a Pan-American
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 equivalent of Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar...

 that seeks to challenge the present domination of Latin American television news by Univision
Univision
Univision is a Spanish-language television network in the United States. It has the largest audience of Spanish language television viewers according to Nielsen ratings. Randy Falco, COO, has been in charge of the company since the departure of Univision Communications president and CEO Joe Uva...

 and the United States-based CNN en Español
CNN en Español
CNN en Español is CNN's Spanish language news channel. On March 17, 1997, CNN launched CNN en Español, a 24-hour Spanish-language news network for the Hispanic American and United States marketplace.-Mexico programming:...

. In 2006 Chávez inaugurated a state-funded movie studio called Villa del Cine
Villa del Cine
Fundación Villa del Cine is a state-owned Venezuelan film and TV studio that was inaugurated on 3 June 2006 by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in the city of Guarenas, near the capital Caracas....

(English: Cinema City). According to Chávez, the goal of this indigenous film industry is to counter what he describes "the dictatorship of Hollywood", the lack of alternative media.
Chávez has a Twitter
Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

 account with more than 1,100,000 followers as of December 2010. Chávez's Twitter account has been described as a way for people to bypass bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 and contact the president directly. There is a team of 200 people to sort through suggestions and comments sent via Twitter. Chávez has said Twitter is "another mechanism for contact with the public, to evaluate many things and to help many people", and that he sees Twitter as "a weapon that also needs to be used by the revolution". In a Twitter report released in June 2010 Venezuela is third globally for the prevalence of Twitter with 19% of the population using it, nearly 2/3 of all internet users. This is behind Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 with 20.8% and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 with 20.5%.

In 2010 availability of internet service in Venezuela rose by 43%. The Venezuelan state has instituted Infocenters, community spaces equipped with computers with internet connections which are free to use. As of March 2010 there are 668 such centres, with more planned.

In 2008, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 criticized Chávez for engaging in "often discriminatory policies that have undercut journalists' freedom of expression." Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

 lists Venezuela's press as being "Not Free" in its 2009 Map of Press Freedom. Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

 has 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 the days before the 11 April 2002 coup, the five main private Venezuelan TV stations gave advertising space to those calling for anti-Chávez demonstrations. In 2006, Chávez announced that the terrestrial broadcast license
Broadcast license
A broadcast license or broadcast license is a specific type of spectrum license that grants the licensee the privilege to use a portion of the radio frequency spectrum in a given geographical area for broadcasting purposes. The licenses are generally straddled with additional restrictions that...

 for RCTV
RCTV
Radio Caracas Televisión Internacional is a Venezuelan cable television network headquartered in the Caracas neighborhood of Quinta Crespo. It was sometimes referred to as the Canal de Bárcenas. Owned by Empresas 1BC, RCTV Internacional was inaugurated as Radio Caracas Televisión on 15 November...

 would not be renewed, due to its refusal to pay taxes and fines, and its alleged open support of the 2002 coup attempt against Chávez, and role in helping to instigate the oil strike in 2002–2003. RCTV was transmitted via cable and satellite and was widely viewable in Venezuela until January 2010, when it was excluded by cable companies in response to an order of National Commission of Telecommunications. The failure to renew its terrestrial broadcast license had been condemned by a multitude of international organizations, many of whom have claimed that the closure was politically motivated, and was intended to silence government critics.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting is a progressive media criticism organization based in New York City, founded in 1986.FAIR describes itself on its website as "the national media watch group" and defines its mission as working to "invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity...

 (FAIR) questioned whether, in the event a television station openly supported and collaborated with coup leaders, the station in question would not be subject to even more serious consequences in the United States or any other Western nation. In a poll conducted by Datanalisis, almost 70 percent of Venezuelans polled opposed the shut-down, but most cited the loss of their favorite soap operas rather than concerns about limits on freedom of expression.

Crime and punishment



During the 1980s and 1990s there was a steady increase in crime in Latin America, and Colombia, El Salvador, Venezuela and Brazil all had homicide rates above the regional average. The major reasons for high levels of crime in Latin America are high inequality, low incarceration rates and small police forces.

During Chávez' administration, homicide rates have more than doubled, with one NGO finding the rate to have nearly quadrupled; the number of homicides increased from 6,000 in 1999 to 13,000 in 2007. Kidnappings have also become increasingly common. Caracas in 2010 had the world's highest murder rate. Chávez maintains that the nation is no more violent now than it was when he took office. Some claim that the current administration, or president Chavez himself is to blame for the rises in crime rates. Although critical of Chavez, a recent International Crisis Group report claimed that when Chavez took office, there were factors beyond his control that led to the crime phenomenon. The study went on to say that cross border activity, mainly with Colombia, is also an important factor. It claims that international organised crime filters between the two countries and leads to higher rates of kidnapping, drug trafficking and homicides. Furthmore, supporters claim that the states with the highest murder rates are controlled by the opposition.

Citizens now believe that crime is a serious problem and that police were themselves a factor in the increase in crime. Between 2000 and 2007, 6,300 police were investigated for violations of human rights. Because decentralization of police was blamed for their ineffectiveness, the 1999 constitution required the National Assembly to form a national police force; however legislation on this became bogged down in legislative discussions. In 2006 the government established the National Commission for Police Reform (Conarepol), in which a range of civil society representatives, politicians and academics investigated law enforcement in Venezuela
Law enforcement in Venezuela
Law enforcement in Venezuela is highly fragmented, being split across multiple police agencies of various types. The National Guard, with around 33,000 officers, is attached to the Ministry of Defence. Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas, with around 8,000 officers, is...

 and made recommendations. This included setting up a national police force designed to operate with high standards of professionalism and specific training in human rights. It also included initiatives whereby communal councils can participate in police supervision, by being able to request investigations into police behaviour and file recommendations and complaints.

In 2008, Chávez passed a decree designed to implement Conarepol's recommendation on the national police force, and the National Bolivarian Police (PNB), and Experimental Security University
Experimental Security University
The Experimental Security University is a state university in Venezuela founded in 2009. It specialises in providing training for Venezuelan police and security forces, in particular the new Policía Nacional Bolivariana...

 began operations in 2009. According to the PNB, murder has been reduced by 60%, robberies by nearly 59%, and gender-based violence has diminished by 66% in the pilot areas where the PNB has been active in and around Caracas. However, not all homicides due to encounters with police are reported. According to the publications El Espectador
El Espectador
El Espectador is a newspaper with national circulation within Colombia, founded by Fidel Cano Gutiérrez on 22 March 1887 in Medellín and published since 1915 in Bogotá...

and Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique
Le Monde diplomatique is a monthly newspaper offering analysis and opinion on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first created mainly for a diplomatic audience as its name implies...

, rising crime in rural and urban areas is partly due to increased cross-border activity by Colombian right-wing paramilitary groups like Águilas Negras.

The decree has been criticized because it was negotiated behind closed doors, and did not follow all of Conarepol's recommendations to deal with human rights, and because "politicization of the force could undercut the goal of professionalization".

Foreign policy


Chávez has refocused Venezuelan foreign policy on Latin American economic and social integration by enacting bilateral trade and reciprocal aid agreements, including his so-called "oil diplomacy". Chávez stated that Venezuela has "a strong oil card to play on the geopolitical stage ... It is a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world, the United States." Chávez has focused on a variety of multinational institutions to promote his vision of Latin American integration, including Petrocaribe
Petrocaribe
Petrocaribe S. A. is a Caribbean oil alliance with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched in June 2005. The payment system allows for a few nations to buy oil on market value but only a certain amount is needed up front; the remainder can be paid...

, Petrosur, and TeleSUR
TeleSUR
La Nueva Televisora del Sur is a pan-Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. TeleSUR was launched with the objective of providing information to promote the integration of Latin America....

. Bilateral trade relationships with other Latin American countries have also played a major role in his policy, with Chávez increasing arms purchases from Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, forming oil-for-expertise trade arrangements with Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, and creating unique barter
Barter
Barter is a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. It is usually bilateral, but may be multilateral, and usually exists parallel to monetary systems in most developed countries, though to a...

 arrangements that exchange Venezuelan petroleum for cash-strapped Argentina's meat and dairy products. Additionally, Chávez worked closely with other Latin American leaders following the 1997 Summit of the Americas
Summit of the Americas
The Summits of the Americas is a series of international summit meetings bringing together the leaders of countries in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Neither the elderly leader nor a representative from Cuba participated in this summit...

 in many areas—especially energy integration—and championed the OAS
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

 decision to adopt the Anti-Corruption Convention. Chávez also participates in the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Friends groups for Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, and is pursuing efforts to join and engage the Mercosur
Mercosur
Mercosur or Mercosul is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people,...

 trade bloc to expand the hemisphere's trade integration prospects.

Personal life


Chávez has been married twice. He first wed Nancy Colmenares, a woman from a poor family in Chávez's hometown of Sabaneta. Chávez and Colmenares remained married for 18 years, during which time they had three children: Rosa Virginia, María Gabriela, and Hugo Rafael, the latter of whom suffers from behavioural problems. The couple separated soon after Chávez's 1992 coup attempt. During his first marriage, Chávez had an affair with historian Herma Marksman
Herma Marksman
Herma Marksman is a Venezuelan historian.Marksman was born of a peasant woman and a German immigrant who worked as an ironworker union organizer. When she was in her 30s she met the future Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who was then married and in his twenties. She became his mistress. They...

; their relationship lasted nine years. Chávez's second wife was journalist Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez
Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez
Marisabel Rodríguez Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist, publicist and radio announcer. She is best known for having been the second wife of current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.- Early life :...

, whom he divorced in 2000. Through that marriage, Chávez had another daughter, Rosinés. Both María and Rosa have provided Chávez with grandchildren. Allegations have been made that Chávez is a womaniser, and has been throughout both his marriages, but these have remained unproven and are contradicted by statements provided by other figures close to him.

Chávez was raised in the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 denomination of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, although he has had a series of disputes with both the Venezuelan Catholic hierarchy and Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 groups like the New Tribes Mission
New Tribes Mission
New Tribes Mission is an international, theologically evangelical Christian mission organization based in Sanford, Florida, United States. NTM has approximately 3,300 missionaries in more than 20 nations, second only to Wycliffe Bible Translators/SIL International David Hesselgrave, Executive...

. He describes himself as a Christian who grew up expecting to become a priest. According to him, as a result of this background his socialist policies have been borne with roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and he publicly used the slogan of "Christ is with the Revolution!". Although he has traditionally kept his own faith a private matter, Chávez has over the course of his presidency become increasingly open to discussing his religious views, stating that both his faith and his interpretation of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

' personal life and ideology have had a profound impact on his leftist and progressive views:
He [Jesus] accompanied me in difficult times, in crucial moments. So Jesus Christ is no doubt a historical figure—he was someone who rebelled, an anti-imperialist guy. He confronted the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

.... Because who might think that Jesus was a capitalist? No. Judas
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is best known for his betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver.-Etymology:...

 was the capitalist, for taking the coins! Christ was a revolutionary. He confronted the religious hierarchies. He confronted the economic power of the time. He preferred death in the defense of his humanistic ideals, who fostered change.... He is our Jesus Christ.

Recognition


The United States-based Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine included Hugo Chávez among their list of the world's 100 most influential people
Time 100
Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by Time. First published in 1999 as a result of a debate among several academics, the list has become an annual event.-History and format:...

 in 2005 and 2006. In a 2006 list compiled by the British magazine New Statesman
New Statesman
New Statesman is a British centre-left political and cultural magazine published weekly in London. Founded in 1913, and connected with leading members of the Fabian Society, the magazine reached a circulation peak in the late 1960s....

, 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."

During his term, Chávez has been awarded the following honorary degrees:
  • Honorary Doctorate in Political Science – Granted by Kyung Hee University (South Korea
    South Korea
    The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

    ) by Rector Chungwon Choue on 16 October 1999.
  • Honorary Doctorate in Jurisprudence – Granted by the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo
    Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo
    The Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo is the public university system in the Dominican Republic with its main campus in Santo Domingo and regional centers across the Republic...

     (Dominican Republic
    Dominican Republic
    The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

    ) on 9 March 2001.
  • Honorary Doctorate – Granted by the University of Brasília
    University of Brasília
    The University of Brasília , is one of the largest and most prestigious Brazilian public universities funded by the Brazilian federal government...

     (Brazil
    Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

    ) by Rector Alberto Pérez on 3 April 2001.
  • Honorary Doctorate – Granted by the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russian Federation) on 15 May 2001.
  • Honorary Doctorate in Economics – Granted by the Faculty of Economics and Commerce of Beijing University (People's Republic of China) on 24 May 2001.


Books


|year= 2006 |publisher= Verso |location= London and New York |isbn=9781844671021 |nopp=|ref=Ali06}} |year= 2010 |publisher= Cambridge University Press |location= Cambridge and New York |isbn=9780521195874 |nopp=|ref=Bre10}} |year= 2008 |publisher= Pluto Press |location=London |isbn=9780745327365 |nopp= |ref=Bru08}} |year= 2009 |publisher= Manchester University Press |location= Manchester |isbn=9780719077715 |nopp=|ref=Can09}} |year= 2011 |publisher= Brookings Institution Press |location=Washington D.C. |isbn=9780815704973 |nopp=|ref=Cor11}} |year= 2010 |publisher=University of Pittsburgh Press |location=Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania |isbn=9780822960645 |nopp= |ref=Gat10}} |year= 2005 |publisher= Verso |location= London and New York |isbn=9781844675333 |nopp=|ref=Got05}} |year= 2010 |publisher= Cambridge University Press |location= New York |isbn=9780521765039 |nopp=|ref=Haw10}} |year= 2007|publisher= Steerforth Press |location= Hanover, New Hampshire |isbn=9781586421359 |nopp=|ref=Jon07}} |year= 2006 |publisher= Palgrave Macmillan |location= New York |isbn=9781403973153 |nopp=|ref=Koz06}} |year= 2008 |publisher= Palgrave Macmillan |location= New York |isbn=9780230617544 |nopp=|ref=Koz08}} |year= 2007 |publisher= Random House |location=New York |isbn=9780679456667 |nopp=|ref=Mar07}} |year= 2005 |publisher= Seven Stories Press |location=New York |isbn=9781583226803 |nopp=|ref=McC05}} |year= 2005 |publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group |location=Westport, Connecticut |isbn=9780313335259 |nopp=|ref=Tar05}} |year= 2005 |publisher= University of North Carolina Press |location=Chapel Hill, North Carolina |isbn=9780807856505 |nopp=|ref=Tri05}} |year= 2007 |publisher= Verso |location=London and New York |isbn=9781844675524 |nopp=|ref=Wil07}}|year= 2006 |publisher= Well Red Books |location= London |isbn=9781900007214 |nopp= |ref=Woo06}}

Academic articles


|year=2002 |title=The 'Radical' Thesis on Globalization and the Case of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez |journal=Latin American Perspectives
Latin American Perspectives
Latin American Perspectives, A Journal on Capitalism and Socialism, is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers in the field of Latin American studies. The journal's editor-in-chief is Ronald Chilcote...

 |volume=29 (6) |publisher=SAGE Publications |location=Thousand oaks, California |pages=88–93|ref=Ell02 |jstor=3185001 |first1=S. |issue=6}} |year=2006 |title=Business as Usual: what the Chávez era tells us about democracy under globalisation |journal=Third World Quarterly
Third World Quarterly
Third World Quarterly is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by Routledge. The journal was established in 1979. , the editor-in-chief is Shahid Qadir. It was published eight times per year until 2011, when publication increased to ten times per year...

 |volume=27 (2) |publisher=Routledge |location=London |pages=265–279 |ref=Gib06 |jstor=4017674 |first1=T. |issue=2}} |year=2003 |title=Hugo Chávez Frias: his movement and his presidency |url= |journal=Venezuelan Politics in the Chavez Era: Class, Polarization and Conflict |editor=Steve Ellner and Daniel Hellinger |publisher=Lynne Riener |location=Boulder |pages=73–92|ref=Lop03}} |year=2005 |title=Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution: Who Are the Chavistas?|journal=Latin American Perspectives
Latin American Perspectives
Latin American Perspectives, A Journal on Capitalism and Socialism, is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers in the field of Latin American studies. The journal's editor-in-chief is Ronald Chilcote...

 |volume=32 (3) |publisher=SAGE Publications |location=Thousand Oaks, California |pages=79–97|ref=Ram05 |jstor=30040243 |first1=C. b. V. |issue=3}} |year=2003 |title=The Chávez Phenomenon: Political Change in Venezuela |journal=Third World Quarterly
Third World Quarterly
Third World Quarterly is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by Routledge. The journal was established in 1979. , the editor-in-chief is Shahid Qadir. It was published eight times per year until 2011, when publication increased to ten times per year...

 |volume=24 (1) |publisher=Routledge |location=London |pages=63–76 |ref=Syl03 |jstor=3993630 |first1=R. D. |last2=Danopoulos |first2=C. P. |issue=1}} |year=Spring 2008 |title=The Missionary Politics of Hugo Chávez|journal=Latin American Politics and Society |volume=50 (1) |publisher=Wiley-Blackwell |location=Hoboken, New Jersey |pages=91–121|ref=Zuq08 |jstor= 30130840}}

News articles and reports


|url=http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/141/53.0.html |newspaper=Christianity Today
Christianity Today
Christianity Today is an Evangelical Christian periodical based in Carol Stream, Illinois. It is the flagship publication of its parent company Christianity Today International, claiming circulation figures of 140,000 and readership of 290,000...

 |publisher=Christianity Today International |location=Carol Stream, Illinois |date=14 October 2005 |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=Alf05}} |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2006/may/07/featuresreview.review |newspaper=The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

 |publisher=Guardian Media Group |location=London |date=7 May 2006 |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=Bea06}} |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/1999/dec/17/alexbellos?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487 |newspaper=The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 |publisher=Guardian Media Group |location=London |date=17 December 1999 |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=Bel99}} |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/11/AR2007011101856.html |newspaper=The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

 |publisher=The Washington Post Company |location=Washington D.C. |date=11 January 2007 |accessdate=12 May 2011 |ref=Car07}} |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/16/hugo-chavez-indefinite-rule |newspaper=The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 |publisher=Guardian Media Group |location=London |date=16 February 2009 |accessdate=27 March 2011 |ref=Car09}} |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/03/libyan-rebels-reject-hugo-chavez |newspaper=The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 |publisher=Guardian Media Group |location=London |date=3 March 2011 |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=Chu11}} |url=http://www.newstatesman.com/200605220016 |newspaper=New Statesman
New Statesman
New Statesman is a British centre-left political and cultural magazine published weekly in London. Founded in 1913, and connected with leading members of the Fabian Society, the magazine reached a circulation peak in the late 1960s....

 |location=London |date=22 May 2006 |accessdate=27 March 2011 |ref=Cow06}} |url=http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1972656_1972691_1973045,00.html |newspaper=Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 |publisher=Time Inc.|location=New York City |date=18 April 2005 |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=Pad05}} |url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187165,00.html |newspaper=Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 |publisher=Time Inc.|location=New York City |date=30 April 2006 |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=Pad06}} |url=http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1719158,00.html |newspaper=Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 |publisher=Time Inc.|location=New York City |date=3 March 2008 |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=Pad08}} |url=http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/22/idUSN21321293 |publisher=Reuters |location=London |date=21 September 2009 |accessdate=30 March 2011 |ref=Pre09}} |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/world/americas/17venez.html?scp=2&sq=hugo+chavez&st=nyt |newspaper=The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 |publisher=The New York Times Company |location=New York City |date=16 February 2010 |accessdate=10 April 2011 |ref=Rom10}} |newspaper=Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs is an American magazine and website on international relations and U.S. foreign policy published since 1922 by the Council on Foreign Relations six times annually...

 |publisher=Council on Foreign Relations |location=New York City |volume=85 (3) |date=May–June 2006 |pages=45–59|ref=Shi06 |jstor=20031966 |first1=M. |issue=3 |journal=Foreign Affairs}}

Interviews


|coauthors= |date=15 June 2010 |work=HARDtalk |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation |location=London |accessdate=25 March 2011 |ref=SacCha10}}

Websites and e-publications


|publisher=Venezuela Analysis |date=17 October 2005 |accessdate=30 March 2011 |ref=Ell05}} |publisher=ZCommunications |date=9 March 2005 |accessdate=30 March 2011 |ref=O'K05}} |publisher=Venezuela Analysis |date=27 August 2003 |accessdate=3 May 2011 |ref=Wil03}} |publisher=The Carter Centre |location=Atlanta, Georgia |date=February 1999 |accessdate=21 March 2011 |ref=Tri99}}

External links


Official
Multimedia
Articles and Interviews
  • BBC News: Profile: Hugo Chávez
  • Shifter, Michael
    Michael Shifter
    Michael Shifter is President of the Inter-American Dialogue. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Latin American Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and writes for the Council's journal Foreign Affairs....

    . In Search of Hugo Chávez. Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006 issue
  • Palast, Greg
    Greg Palast
    Gregory Allyn Palast is a New York Times-bestselling author and a freelance journalist for the British Broadcasting Corporation as well as the British newspaper The Observer. His work frequently focuses on corporate malfeasance but has also been known to work with labor unions and consumer...

    . Hugo Chávez Interview. The Progressive, July 2006

Miscellaneous