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Who Is Hugo Chavez?

Born on 28 July 1954, Hugo Chavez is the 53rd president of Venezuela. He is a controversial world figure, best known for his often malicious and crass lecture style speeches against certain nations and his democratic socialist politics.

Hugo Chavez began his career in the military where he graduated with an engineering degree. He served in the army for 17 years as a paratrooper and a lecturer. As a lecturer he harshly criticised the Venezuelan government and the societal structures. He began graduate studies in political science at the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, but did not complete the courses. However, this political education gave him greater knowledge of communism and socialism and introduced him to political leaders who continue to influence him: Juan Velasco Alvarado, president of Peru, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Saddam Hussein, during his presidency of Iraq. Simón Bolívar was of significant influence and he named his group after him: Bolivarian Revolution.

With his growing following in the military, Hugo Chavez organized and led a military coup d’état against President Carlos Andrés Pérez in February 1992. The coup failed and he was jailed. A year later Pérez was impeached and Hugo Chavez was pardoned in 1994.

Using the Bolivarianism platform, Hugo Chavez won the 1998 election and immediately began his social welfare and justice programs to combat poverty and improve Venezuela’s economy. There has been improved access to healthcare and education, but the corrupt military and economic recession has held back other gains. A military coup occurred in 2002 against him, but Chavez soon regained power.

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