Hugo Chávez: Wikis


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Hugo Chávez

Assumed office 
2 February 1999
Vice President Isaías Rodríguez
Adina Bastidas
Diosdado Cabello
José Vicente Rangel
Jorge Rodríguez
Ramón Carrizales
Elias Jaua
Preceded by Rafael Caldera

Born 28 July 1954 (1954-07-28) (age 55)
Sabaneta, Venezuela
Political party United Socialist Party (2008–present)
Other political
Fifth Republic Movement (1997–2008)
Spouse(s) Nancy Colmenares (Div.)
Marisabel Rodríguez (Div.)
Occupation Lieutenant colonel
Religion Roman Catholicism

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈuɣo rafaˈel ˈtʃaβes ˈfɾ]; born 28 July 1954) is the President of Venezuela. As the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Chávez promotes a political doctrine of participatory democracy, socialism and Latin American and Caribbean cooperation. He is also a critic of neoliberalism, globalization, and United States foreign policy.[1]

A career military officer, Chávez founded the left-wing Fifth Republic Movement after orchestrating a failed 1992 coup d'état against former President Carlos Andrés Pérez. Chávez was elected President in 1998 with a campaign centering on promises of aiding Venezuela's poor majority, and was reelected in 2000 and in 2006. Domestically, Chávez has maintained nationwide Bolivarian Missions, whose goals are to combat disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty, and other social ills. Abroad, Chávez has acted against the Washington Consensus by supporting alternative models of economic development, and has advocated cooperation among the world's poor nations, especially those in Latin America. His political influence in South America – partly due to his use of Venezuela's oil wealth – and his adversarial relationship with the United States have given him a comparatively high geopolitical profile, leading Time magazine to include him among their list of the world's 100 most influential people in 2005 and 2006.[2][3]


Early life (1954–1992)

Chávez was born on July 28, 1954 in Sabaneta, Barinas to schoolteachers Hugo de los Reyes Chávez and Elena Frías de Chávez. He is the younger brother of both Barinas governor Adán Chávez and Sabaneta mayor Anibal José Chávez Frías. The Chávez family is of mixed Amerindian, Afro-Venezuelan, and Spanish descent.[4] Chávez was born in a mud hut near Sabaneta. Due to the Chávez family's impoverished conditions, Hugo Chávez was sent to Sabaneta with his older brother Adán to live with his paternal grandmother, Rosa Inés Chávez, where he pursued hobbies such as painting, singing, and baseball while attending elementary school at the Julián Pino School. He was later forced to relocate to the town of Barinas to attend high school at the Daniel Florencio O'Leary School.[5]

Military career

At age seventeen, Chávez enrolled at the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences. After graduating in 1975 as a sub-lieutenant with a degree in Military Arts and Science, Chávez entered military service for several months. He was then allowed to pursue graduate studies in political science at the Simón Bolívar University, but left without a degree.[5]

Over the course of his college years, Chávez and fellow students developed a left-wing nationalist doctrine that they termed "Bolivarianism," inspired by the Pan-American philosophy of 19th century Venezuelan revolutionary Simón Bolívar, the influence of former Peruvian President Juan Velasco and the thought of various socialist and communist leaders including Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.[6][7] Chávez engaged in sporting events and cultural activities during these years as well. He played both baseball and softball with the Criollitos de Venezuela, progressing with them to the Venezuelan National Baseball Championships in 1969. Chávez also wrote numerous poems, stories and theatrical pieces.[5]

Upon completing his studies, Chávez initially entered active-duty military service as a member of a counter insurgency battalion stationed in Barinas. Chávez's military career lasted 17 years, during which time he held a variety of posts including command and staff positions, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Chávez also held a series of teaching and staffing positions at the Academy of Military Sciences, where he was first acknowledged by his peers for his fiery lecturing style and radical critique of Venezuelan government and society.[8] In 1983, Chávez established the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200). Afterwards, he rose to a number of high-level positions in Caracas and was decorated several times.[5]

Personal life

Chávez has been married twice. He first wedded Nancy Colmenares, a woman from a poor family originating in Chávez's own hometown of Sabaneta. Chávez and Colmenares remained married for eighteen years, during which time they had three children: Rosa Virginia, María Gabriela, and Hugo Rafael. They separated soon after Chávez's 1992 coup attempt. During his first marriage, Chávez also had an affair with young historian Herma Marksman; their relationship lasted nine years.[9][10] Chávez is divorced from his second wife, journalist Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez.[11] Through that marriage, Chávez had another daughter, Rosinés. Chávez has two grandchildren, Gabriela[12] and Manuel.[13]

Chávez was raised a Roman Catholic,[14] although he has had a series of disputes with both the Venezuelan Catholic hierarchy and Protestant groups like the New Tribes Mission.[15][16] Originally he kept his own faith a private matter, but over the course of his presidency, Chávez has become increasingly open to discussing his religious views, stating that both his faith and his interpretation of Jesus' personal life and ideology have had a profound impact on his left-wing and progressivist views.[17] He often invokes God and asks for prayer in speeches, as he did when he asked Venezuelans to pray for Fidel Castro's health.[18] He describes himself as 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.[19]

Political development

Coup attempt of 1992

Chávez calls for the surrender of all forces on national television (1992)

After an extended period of popular dissatisfaction and economic decline[20] under the administration of President Carlos Andrés Pérez and the violent repression known as El Caracazo,[21] Chávez made extensive preparations for a military coup d'état.[9] Initially planned for December, Chávez delayed the planned 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 assaulting and overwhelming key military and communications installations throughout the city, including the Miraflores presidential palace, the defense ministry, La Carlota military airport, and the Military Museum. Chávez's ultimate goal was to intercept and take custody of Pérez, who was returning to Miraflores from an overseas trip.

Chávez held the loyalty of less than 10% of Venezuela's military forces.[22] Numerous betrayals, defections, errors, and other unforeseen circumstances soon left Chávez and a small group of rebels hiding in the Military Museum, without any means of conveying orders to their network of spies and collaborators spread throughout Venezuela.[23] Further, Chávez's allies were unable to broadcast their prerecorded tapes on the national airwaves in which Chávez planned to issue a general call for a mass civilian uprising against Pérez. As the coup unfolded, the coup plotters were unable to capture Pérez: fourteen soldiers were killed, and 50 soldiers and some 80 civilians injured in the ensuing violence.[24]

Chávez, alarmed, soon gave himself up to the government. He was then allowed to appear on national television to call for all remaining rebel detachments in Venezuela to cease hostilities. When he did so, Chávez quipped on national television that he had only failed "por ahora" (for now).[25] Chávez was catapulted into the national spotlight, with many poor Venezuelans seeing him as a figure who had stood up against government corruption and kleptocracy.[26][27] Chávez was sent to Yare prison; meanwhile, Pérez, the coup's intended target, was impeached a year later. While in prison, Chávez developed a carnosity of the eye, which spread to his iris. The clarity of his eyesight was slowly corrupted; despite treatments and operations, Chávez's eyesight was permanently damaged.[17]

Political rise (1992–1999)

After a two-year imprisonment, Chávez was pardoned by President Rafael Caldera in 1994. Upon his release, Chávez reconstituted the MBR-200 as the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR—Movimiento Quinta República, with the V representing the Roman numeral five). Later, in 1998, Chávez began to campaign for the presidency. In working to earn the trust of voters, Chávez drafted an agenda that drew heavily on his ideology of Bolivarianism. 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 system.[28]

Chávez used his flamboyant public speaking style—notable for its abundance of colloquialisms and ribald manner—on the campaign trail to win the trust and favour 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%. Chávez went on to win the 1998 presidential election in December 1998 with 56% of the votes.[9][29]

Political philosophy

Chávez's Bolivarianism is based on ideas drawn from Simón Bolívar, Simón Rodríguez and Ezequiel Zamora,[30] influenced by the writings of Marxist historian Federico Brito Figueroa. Chávez was well acquainted with the various traditions of Latin American socialism espoused by Jorge Eliécer Gaitán[31] (a populist[32] and Latin American socialist[31] and Salvador Allende (another Latin American socialist[31]) and from a young age by the Cuban revolutionary doctrine of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.[31] Other indirect influences on Chávez's political philosophy are the writings of Noam Chomsky[33] and the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Bible (Chávez describes Jesus as the world's first socialist,[34] or the world's greatest socialist[35]). Although Chávez himself refers to his ideology as Bolivarianismo ("Bolivarianism"), Chávez's supporters and opponents in Venezuela refer to themselves as being either for or against "chavismo". Thus, Chávez supporters refer to themselves not as "Bolivarians" or "Bolivarianists", but rather as "chavistas"..

Later in his life, Chávez would acknowledge the role that democratic socialism (a form of socialism that emphasizes grassroots democratic participation) plays in Bolivarianism.[36] Because his Bolivarianism relies on popular support, Chávez has organized the "Bolivarian Circles", which he cites as examples of grassroots and participatory democracy. The circles are forums for a few hundred local residents who decide how to spend the government allowance for social development. They usually decide for neighborhood beautification, mass mobilization, lending support to small businesses, and providing basic social services.

Presidency (1999–present)

Following Chávez's inauguration in February 1999, a referendum for a new constitution was passed, and a constitutional assembly formed. The resulting 1999 Venezuelan Constitution was approved by another referendum in December 1999. The new constitution included an increase in the presidential term from five to six years, a new presidential two-term limit, a new provision for presidential recall elections, renaming of the country to República Bolivariana de Venezuela, expanded presidential powers, conversion of the bicameral National Assembly into a unicameral legislature, merit-based appointments of judges, and creation of the Public Defender, an office authorized to regulate the activities of the presidency and the National Assembly.[37] Elections for all elected government positions followed in 2000 under the new constitution, including the 2000 presidential election.

A rally in favor of the 2004 effort to recall Hugo Chávez in the capital, Caracas. The recall referendum was defeated, with 59% of voters opposed to it.

Chávez survived the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt which briefly removed him from power. A few months after the coup, in December 2002, the Chávez presidency faced a two-month strike organized by management at the national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) when he initiated management changes, leading to the eventual dismissal of 17,000 workers; the strike deepened an economic crisis and cut the government off from all-important oil revenue.[38] A 2004 referendum to recall Chávez, organized by Sumate, was defeated.

Chávez won the Organization of American States (OAS) and Carter Center certification of the national election of December 2006 with 63% of the vote,[39] beating his closest challenger Manuel Rosales who conceded his loss.[40] After this victory, Chávez promised a more radical turn towards socialism.[41]

In August 2007, Chávez proposed a broad package of measures as part of a constitutional reform. Among other measures, he called for an end to presidential term limits and proposed limiting central bank autonomy, strengthening state expropriation powers and providing for public control over international reserves as part of an overhaul of Venezuela's constitution. In accordance with the 1999 constitution, Chávez proposed the changes to the constitution, which were then approved by the National Assembly. The final test was a December 2007 referendum.[42] The referendum was defeated, with 51% of the voters rejecting the amendments proposed by Chávez.[43]

On 15 February 2009, Chávez won a referendum to eliminate term limits,[44] allowing him to govern indefinitely.[45] Polls show most Venezuelans do not want him to continue indefinitely; increasing concern over crime, the economy, and infrastructure;[46] and increasing consolidation of power.[46][47] A staunch former ally who was instrumental in returning Chávez to power in 2002, Raúl Baduel, broke with Chávez and accused him of being a tyrant.[48]

Chávez holds a miniature copy of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution at the 2005 World Social Forum held in Brazil.

The Chávez government has pursued a series of Bolivarian Missions aimed at providing public services to improve economic, cultural, and social conditions. A 2010 OAS report[49] indicated achievements in addressing illiteracy, healthcare and poverty,[50] and economic and social advances.[51] (Other sources argue that there has been no meaningful improvement in poverty, health, education, literacy or other indicators of the well-being of the poor, saying that the government merely changes its reporting methodology or uses accounting gimmicks that obfuscate data, expenditures and allocation of resources.[38][52][53]) Venezuela has said it will not accept an IACHR/OAS visit as long as Santiago Cantón remains its Executive Secretary, unless the IACHR apologises for its actions in relation to the 2002 coup.[54][49]

The 2010 OAS report also found concerns with freedom of expression, human rights abuses, authoritarianism, press freedom, threats to democracy,[55] political intimidation, and "the existence of a pattern of impunity in cases of violence",[56] as well as erosion of separation of powers, the economic infrastructure, and "chronic problems including power blackouts, soaring crime, and a perceived lack of investment in crucial sectors".[57] The report discusses decreasing rights of those in opposition to the government and "goes into heavy detail" about control of the judiciary. It says elections are free, but the state has increasing control over media and state resources used during election campaigns, and interference with opposition elected officials.[58] According to The Washington Post, the report shows that "Chávez holds tremendous influence over other branches of government, particularly the judiciary";[55] CNN says the "lack of independence by Venezuela's judiciary and legislature in their dealings with leftist President Hugo Chavez often leads to the abuses",[56] and the Wall Street Journal blames the government of Chavez.[57] Chávez rejected the report, calling it "pure garbage", and said Venezuela should boycott the OAS; a spokesperson said, "We don't recognize the commission as an impartial institution". He disclaims any power to influence the judiciary.[59] A Venezuelan official said the report distorts and takes statistics out of context, saying that "human rights violations in Venezuela have decreased".[60]

The European Parliament passed a February 2010 resolution[61] expressing "concern about the movement toward authoritarianism" by Chávez.[62]

Foreign policy

Chávez and former Argentina President Néstor Kirchner discuss energy and trade integration projects for South America. They met on 21 November 2005 in Venezuela.

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".[63][64] Chávez stated that Venezuela has "a strong oil card to play on the geopolitical stage ..." He said, "It is a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world, the United States."[65] Chávez has focused on a variety of multinational institutions to promote his vision of Latin American integration, including Petrocaribe, Petrosur, and TeleSUR. Bilateral trade relationships with other Latin American countries have also played a major role in his policy, with Chávez increasing arms purchases from Brazil, forming oil-for-expertise trade arrangements with Cuba, and creating unique barter 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 in many areas—especially energy integration—and championed the OAS decision to adopt the Anti-Corruption Convention. Chávez also participates in the United Nations Friends groups for Haiti, and is pursuing efforts to join and engage the Mercosur trade bloc to expand the hemisphere's trade integration prospects.[66]

Economic policy

"Every factory must be a school to educate, like Che Guevara said, to produce not only briquettes, steel, and aluminum, but also, above all, the new man and woman, the new society, the socialist society."
Hugo Chávez, at a May 2009 socialist transformation workshop [67]

Since 2005, Chávez is an outspoken proponent of what he calls a socialism of the 21st century as a means to help the poor. Since 2003, the Venezuelan government has set price controls on around 400 basic foods to counter inflation, which has led to "sporadic food shortages".[68] Food processing companies said that regulated prices had not kept pace with inflation, so that they were producing regulated food at a loss. Chávez has also nationalized a number of major companies, including in the telephone, electric, steel, and cement industries, and encouraged cooperatives.

According to Francisco Rodríguez, resources have been directed "away from the poor even as oil profits were surging",[38] and there is no evidence of improvements in the literacy, poverty or social and economic welfare of the poor (and some evidence of decline in those measures) beyond what could be explained by rising oil prices. He says that "inequality has actually increased during the Chávez administration.[38] He calls the result of Chávez's policies a "highly distorted economy in which the government effectively subsidizes two-thirds of the costs of imports and foreign travel for the wealthy while the poor cannot find basic food items".[38] He says the percentage of the budget allocated to "health, education and housing" was identical in Chávez's first eight years to the preceding eight years, and lower in 2008 than in 1992.[38] Barry Cannon writes that "most areas of spending have increased".[69] "[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."[69] Spending on health "has increased from 1.6% of GDP in 2000 to 7.71% in 2006".[69] Spending on housing "receives low public support", increasing only "from 1% in GDP to 1.6% in 2006".[69] 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 povery line".[70]

A 2006 Foreign Affairs article concurs that minimal gains have occurred despite the oil boom, and says that the government "just changed its methodology for measuring poverty", which rose "from 43 to 54 percent during Chávez's first four years in office" according to government statistics.[52] Barry Cannon attributes this decline to the oil strike in 2002: "The situation changed dramatically [...] once the oil strike was defeated. The Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) shows that the Venezuelan economy grew on average by 11.85% in the period 2004-2007".[71] Some economists argue that job creation may not be permanent, for it relies on an expanded public payroll that will become unaffordable if oil prices fall.[72] Critics also question the government's reported poverty figures, based on contradictory statistics and definitions,[52] which they say have not fallen enough considering the country's vast oil revenues in the last two years.[72] The Economist reports that both poverty and unemployment figures under Chávez have not seen significant improvement and that official corruption under his government is rampant,[73] and point to the 1–2% drop in Venezuela's per-capita GDP early in Chávez's term, before the 2004 surge in oil prices.[74] According to The Boston Globe, critics say the government defines "informal workers, such as street vendors, as employed, and exclud[es] adults who are studying in missions from unemployment numbers". When the president of the Venezuelan National Statistics Institute released numbers in 2005 which showed that poverty had actually risen by more than 10 points under Chávez (to 53% in 2004, just after the strike), Chávez called for a new measure of poverty, defining a "social well-being index". Under this new definition, poverty registered at 40 percent in 2006.[75]

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 Rodríguez, the firing of 17,000 PDVSA employees and the "takeover of PDVSA by Chávez loyalists and the subordination of the firm's decisions to the government's political imperatives have resulted in a dramatic decline in Venezuela's oil-production capacity".[38] Rodríguez says "Venezuela's largest oil boom since the 1970s" was squandered, with PDVSA constrained by the costs of "political patronage" and the "loss of technical capacity".[38] According to Cannon, the state income from oil revenue has "increas[ed] from 51% of total income in 2000 to 56% 2006";[76] oil exports "have grown from 77% in 1997 [...] to 89% in 2006";[76] and "this dependence on oil is one of the chief problems facing the Chávez government".[76]

Chávez and the media

The large majority of mass media in Venezuela is privately owned. Private corporations control 80% of the cable television channels, 100% of the newspaper companies, and 706 out of 709 radio stations.[citation needed]

As part of a program of media democraticization, the Venezuelan government has required that all private television stations dedicate 25% of their airtime to programs created by independent producers.[77]

Revocation of RCTV license

In 2006, President Chávez announced that the terrestrial broadcast license for RCTV—Venezuela's second largest TV channel—would not be renewed, due to its refusal to pay taxes or fines, its open support of the 2002 coup attempt against Chávez and oil strike in 2002–2003,[78] and violations of the Law on the Social Responsibility of Radio and Television.[79][80][81] The channel's terrestrial broadcasts ended on 28 May 2007 and were replaced with a independent media foundation TEVES, which will provide alternative, community-produced content.[82] The director of the station, Marcel Granier, denies taking part in the coup.[83]

Before the April 2002 coup, many owners, managers, and commentators working for the five major private mainstream television networks and largest mainstream newspapers had stated their opposition to Chávez's policies.[84] These media outlets have accused the Chávez administration of intimidating their journalists using specially dispatched gangs.[84] Chávez in turn alleges that the owners of these networks have primary allegiance not to Venezuela but to the United States, and that they seek the advancement of neoliberalism via corporate propaganda.

In the days before the 11 April 2002 coup, the private Venezuelan TV stations had replaced regular programming with broadcasts by those calling for anti-Chávez demonstrations.[85][86] The RCTV news director, Andres Izarra,later testified that he was ordered by his superiors at the station to broadcast Zero pro-Chavez, nothing related to Chavez or his supporters…. The idea was to create a climate of transition and to start to promote the dawn of a new country. After the coup, when the streets of Caracas filled with supporters of Chavez, RCTV began playing soap operas and cartoons, instead of reporting on the protests.[citation needed]

RCTV could broadcast via cable and satellite and was widely viewable in Venezuela until January 24, 2010.[87][88] The failure to renew its terrestrial broadcast license had been condemned by a multitude of international organizations.[83][89][90][91] However, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (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.[92]

Talk show

Throughout his presidency, Chávez has hosted the live talk show known as Aló Presidente ("Hello, President!").[93] The show broadcasts in varying formats on state owned Venezolana de Televisión (VTV—Venezuelan State Television) each Sunday at 11:00 AM. The show features Chávez addressing topics of the day, taking phone calls and live questions from both the studio and broadcast audience, and touring locations where government social welfare programs are active. Additionally, on 25 July 2005, Chávez inaugurated TeleSUR, a proposed Pan-American homologue of Al Jazeera that seeks to challenge the present domination of Latin American television news by Univision and the United States-based CNN en Español. Chávez's media policies have contributed to elevated tensions between the United States and Venezuela.[94]


During his term, Chávez has been awarded the following honorary degrees:[95]

  • Honorary Doctorate in Political Science—Granted by Kyung Hee University (South Korea) by Rector Chungwon Choue on 16 October 1999.
  • Honorary Doctorate in Jurisprudence—Granted by the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) on 9 March 2001.
  • Honorary Doctoral Professorship—Granted by the University of Brazil (Brazil) by Rector Alberto Pérez on 3 April 2001.
  • Honorary Doctorate—Granted by the Academy of Diplomacy of the Ministry of External 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.

In a list compiled by the magazine New Statesman in 2006, he was voted eleventh in the list of "Heroes of our time".[96]


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  25. ^ Gott (2005), p. 67. Chávez spoke thus: "Comrades: unfortunately, for the moment, the objectives that we had set for ourselves have not been achieved in the capital. That's to say that those of us here in Caracas have not been able to seize power. Where you are, you have performed well, but now is the time for a rethink; new possibilities will arise again, and the country will be able to move definitively towards a better future."
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  41. ^ Ireland On-Line. Chavez promises more radical turn toward socialism. (4 December 2006). Accessed 4 December 2006.
  42. ^ Ellsworth, Brian (16 August 2007). "Venezuela's Chavez calls for end to term limits". Reuters. Retrieved 16 August 2007. 
  43. ^ Romero, Simon (4 December 2007). "Venezuela Vote Sets Roadblocks on Chávez Path". New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  44. ^ Forero, Juan (16 February 2009). "Chávez Wins Removal of Term Limits". The Washington Post. 
  45. ^ Llana, Sara Miller (17 February 2009). "Hugo Chávez for life?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  46. ^ a b "Venezuela's drift to authoritarianism: Wolf sheds fleece". The Economist. 28 January 2010. "It was the latest in a series of recent moves that have placed Mr Chávez’s elected regime within a hair’s breadth of dictatorship. ... Now, opinion polls are showing unprecedented levels of discontent over crime, inflation, and power and water shortages. There were big anti-government protests in Caracas, the capital, after RCTV was shut off, which were countered by the government’s more modest rally. ... In one recent poll 66% said they did not want him to continue in office when his present term ends in three years. ... If the September elections were run according to the constitution, which mandates proportional representation, Mr Chávez would surely lose his strong parliamentary majority. But a new electoral law allows the largest single group to sweep the board. The government-dominated electoral authority redrew constituency boundaries this month, with the effect of minimising potential opposition gains." 
  47. ^ Romero, Simon (16 February 2010). "Purging Loyalists, Chávez Tightens His Inner Circle". New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
    * Romero, Simon (8 May 2009). "Chávez Seizes Assets of Oil Contractors". New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
    * "Threats to Venezuela's opposition". The Economist. 8 April 2009. 
  48. ^ Carroll, Rory (2009-10-12). "Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez accused of turning tyrant". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
    * "Top former general breaks with Chavez over constitutional changes". CNN. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  49. ^ a b Organization of American States (24 February 2010). "Press release N° 20/10, IACHR publishes report on Venezuela". Press release. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  50. ^ Alonso, Juan Francisco (24 February 2010). "IACHR requests the Venezuelan government to guarantee all human rights". El Universal. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  51. ^ Schimizzi, Carrie (24 February 2010). "Venezuela government violating basic human rights: report". Jurist: Legal news and research. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  52. ^ a b c Shifter, Michael (May/June 2006). "In Search of Hugo Chávez" (PDF). Foreign Affairs 85 (3). Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  53. ^ Corrales, Javier (July 2006). "A Modern-Day Tyrant? Part provocateur, part CEO and part electoral wizard, his critics believe Hugo Chavez has updated tyranny for today." Foreign Policy. Available at, Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  54. ^ Venezuelanalysis, 20 October 2009, Venezuela's OAS Rep: Opposition Human Rights Claims a Smear Campaign
  55. ^ a b Forero, Juan (24 February 2010). "Venezuela, President Chávez criticized in OAS report". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  56. ^ a b "Venezuela violates human rights, OAS commission reports". CNN. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  57. ^ a b Prado, Paulo (24 February 2010). "OAS Report Chastises Venezuela". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 February 2010. "... issued a scathing report that accuses Venezuela's government of human-rights abuses, political repression, and eroding the separation of powers among government branches in the oil-rich country. In its sternly worded conclusion, it blames the government of President Hugo Chávez—already reeling from a recession and energy shortages that have undermined his popularity in recent months—for "aspects that contribute to the weakening of the rule of law and democracy." ... The problems include the firing of judges critical of Mr. Chávez, the shuttering of critical media outlets, and the exertion of pressure on public employees, including those of state oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela SA, to support the government at the ballot box. ... Mr. Chávez has been struggling to maintain his popularity at home amid severe economic, infrastructure, and social headaches. In addition to the downturn and ballooning inflation, the government faces mounting criticism and public protests over chronic problems including power blackouts, soaring crime, and a perceived lack of investment in crucial sectors, including roads and the all-important oil industry." 
  58. ^ Forero, Juan and Steve Inskeep (24 February 2010). "OAS Report Critical of Venezuela's Chavez". National Public Radio (NPR). Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  59. ^ "Chavez Rejects Report Citing Rights Violations". New York Times (Associated Press). 25 February 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010. 
  60. ^ "Venezuelan official disputes report on human rights abuses". CNN. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  61. ^ European Parliament (11 February 2010). "Human rights: Venezuela, Madagascar, Burma". Press release. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  62. ^ "European Parliament OKs resolutions". 12 February 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010. "The members expressed concern about the movement toward authoritarianism by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government, the European Union said Thursday in a release. In January 2010, six cable and satellite television channels were ordered off the air after they were criticized for failing to broadcast Chávez's speech on the 52nd anniversary of the overthrow of Perez Jimenez." 
  63. ^ "Using oil to spread revolution" (retitled to "Venezuela and Latin America") The Economist, (28 July 2005). Retrieved 11 June 2005.
  64. ^ Guyana Diary. (Monthly Newsletter of the Guyana Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela, February 2004). "Guyana to Try for Better Oil Rates Under Caracas Accord". Retrieved 14 June 2006." Under the Caracas Energy Accord, countries can purchase oil supplies on concessional terms. It complements the terms of the San Jose Agreement, through which Venezuela offers special financial conditions to signatory oil-buying countries."
  65. ^ Blum, Justin (Washington Post, 22 November 2005). "Chavez Pushes Petro-Diplomacy". Retrieved 29 November 2005.
  66. ^ "Hugo Chavez in Moscow Thinks First, Then Speaks". 1 October 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  67. ^ Venezuela Nationalizes Gas Plant and Steel Companies, Pledges Worker Control, by James Suggett,, 22 May 2009
  68. ^ Reuters, 5 March 2009, Food, farms the new target for Venezuela's Chavez
  69. ^ a b c d Cannon, Barry (2010). Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution: Populism and Democracy in a Globalised Age, Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0719077722 , p. 98.
  70. ^ Meade, Teresa. A History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present (Oxford 2010), p. 313.
  71. ^ Cannon, p. 86.
  72. ^ a b Venezuela: Mission Impossible (retitled to "Poverty in Venezuela"). The Economist (16 February 2006). Retrieved 22 June 2006.
  73. ^ "Venezuela: The sickly stench of corruption" (retitled to "Corruption in Venezuela". The Economist(30 March 2006). Retrieved 19 June 2006.
  74. ^ "Country Briefings: Venezuela Factsheet". The Economist (June 2003). Retrieved 4 June 2003.
  75. ^ Lakshmanam, Indira AR (2006-08-13). "Critics slam Venezuelan oil windfall spending: 'Missions' won't have a lasting effect, they say". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  76. ^ a b c Cannon, p. 87.
  77. ^ Albert, Michael "Venezuela's Path", ZNet, November 06, 2005
  78. ^ "[t]his criticism went beyond mere commentary as it was deeply involved in the 2002 coup and the 2003 oil stoppage." Cannon, p. 131.
  79. ^ Declaraciones del Ministerio de Comunicación e Información
  80. ^ Grandin, Greg "Free Speech is Alive and Well in Venezuela", AlterNet, June 22, 2007
  81. ^ BBC NEWS. Chavez to shut down opposition TV. (29 December 2006).
  82. ^Haste, Paul. "Radio Caracas TV loses its license", Z Magazine, Sunday, July 01, 2007
  83. ^ a b Forero, Juan. (The Washington Post, 18 January 2007). "Pulling the Plug on Anti-Chavez TV". Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  84. ^ a b Dinges, John. Columbia Journalism Review (July 2005). "Soul Search". Retrieved 13 June 2006.
  85. ^ Duncan Campbell, "It's a Coup: your sets will adjust accordingly," The Guardian, 29 April 2002.
  86. ^ "The Media War Against the People: A Case Study of Media Concentration and Power in Venezuela", in Olivia Burlingame Goumbri, The Venezuela Reader, Washington D.C., U.S.A., 2005, p 94.
  87. ^ "Anti-Chávez Channel Is Taken Down "
  88. ^ Station was never closed as claimed Venezuela's RCTV Reappears on Cable and Satellite Accessed 12 August 2007.
  89. ^ Joel Simon, Executive Director CPJ urges Chávez to allow RCTV to stay on the air Committee to Protect Journalists Accessed 29 May 2007.
  90. ^ Venezuela (2006). Freedom House. Accessed 29 May 2007.
  91. ^ IPI condemns shutdown of RCTV television station in Venezuela International Press Institute Accessed 29 May 2007.
  92. ^ "Coup Co-Conspirators as Free-Speech Martyrs". 
  93. ^ Lakshmanan, Indira. The Boston Globe (27 July 2005). "Channeling His Energies: Venezuelans riveted by president's TV show". Retrieved 15 October 2005.
  94. ^ Bruce, Ian. (BBC, 28 June 2005). "Venezuela sets up 'CNN rival'". Retrieved 13 June 2006.
  95. ^ "Gobierno en Línea: Nuestros Presidentes, Biografía del Presidente Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías". Government of Venezuela. 2005. Retrieved 21 January 2006.  (Spanish)
  96. ^ New Statesman

Further reading

External links

Articles and Interviews
Political offices
Preceded by
Rafael Caldera
President of Venezuela
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

You did very well over there, but now is the time to reflect; new situations will come and the country must definitively get on the path to a better destiny.
Hear this message of solidarity. I thank you for your loyalty, your valor, your exuberance, and I, before this country and before you all, assume responsibility for this Boliviarian militant movement.

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (born July 28, 1954) is the current President of Venezuela




  • Before anything else I would like to say good day to all of the Venezuelan people, and this Boliviarian message is directed to the brave soldiers in the Parachutist Regimen of Aragua and the Armed Brigade of Valencia. Friends: For now, lamentably, the objectives we considered were not achieved in the capital. That is to say, we here in Caracas have not managed to take power. You did very well over there, but now is the time to reflect; new situations will come and the country must definitively get on the path to a better destiny. So hear my word; hear Commander Chávez, who sends you this message so that you may please reflect and put down your weapons, because now, really, the objectives that we have brought to the national level are impossible to achieve. Friends: Hear this message of solidarity. I thank you for your loyalty, your valor, your exuberance, and I, before this country and before you all, assume responsibility for this Boliviarian militant movement. Thank you.
    • Hugo Chávez to Venezuelan television reporters just before being arrested for his participation in an attempted coup d'état, February 1992.


I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar's sword.


When imperialism feels weak, it resorts to brute force. The attacks on Venezuela are a sign of weakness, ideological weakness.
It is necessary to transcend capitalism.
We have to re-invent socialism. It can’t be the kind of socialism that we saw in the Soviet Union, but it will emerge as we develop new systems that are built on cooperation, not competition.
Knowing English is important, but for us Venezuelans I think it would also be important to know Portuguese.
Let the dogs of the empire bark, that's their job; ours is to battle to achieve the true liberation of our people.
  • When imperialism feels weak, it resorts to brute force. The attacks on Venezuela are a sign of weakness, ideological weakness. Nowadays almost nobody defends neoliberalism. Up until three years ago, just Fidel [Castro] and I raised those criticisms at Presidential meetings. We felt lonely, as if we infiltrated those meetings.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [1]
  • Just look at the internal repression inside the United States, the Patriot Act, which is a repressive law against U.S. citizens. They have put in jail a group of journalists for not revealing their sources. They won't allow them to take pictures of the bodies of the dead soldiers, many of them Latinos, coming from Iraq. Those are signs of Goliath's weaknesses.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [2]
  • The south also exists... the future of the north depends on the south. If we don't make that better world possible, if we fail, and through the rifles of the U.S. Marines, and through Mr. Bush's murderous bombs, if there is no coincidence and organization necessary in the south to resist the offensive of neo-imperialism, and the Bush doctrine is imposed upon the world, the world will be destroyed.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [3]
  • Everyday I become more convinced, there is no doubt in my mind, as many intellectuals have said, that it is necessary to transcend capitalism. But capitalism can not be transcended through capitalism itself; it must be done through socialism, true socialism, with equality and justice. I’m also convinced that it is possible to do it under democracy, but not in the type of democracy being imposed by Washington.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [4]
  • We have to re-invent socialism. It can’t be the kind of socialism that we saw in the Soviet Union, but it will emerge as we develop new systems that are built on cooperation, not competition.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [5]
  • Privatization is a neoliberal and imperialist plan. Health can’t be privatized because it is a fundamental human right, nor can education, water, electricity and other public services. They can’t be surrendered to private capital that denies the people from their rights.
    • Hugo Chávez during his closing speech at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 31, 2005. [6]
  • The world should forget about cheap oil. [The price] will keep going up and some day arrive at US$100 per barrel.
    • Hugo Chávez at a press conference in New Delhi, after signing a cooperative agreement with India's hydrocarbon sector, March 2005.
  • The grand destroyer of the world, and the greatest threat ... is represented by U.S. imperialism.
    • Hugo Chávez during his television/radio show ¡Aló Presidente! on August 21, 2005. [7]
  • But Cuba doesn’t have a dictatorship — it’s a revolutionary democracy.
    • Hugo Chávez during his television/radio show ¡Aló Presidente! on August 21, 2005. [8]
  • That man, the king of vacations... the king of vacations in his ranch said nothing but: "You have to flee." and didn't say how... that cowboy, the cowboy mentality.
  • Knowing English is important, but for us Venezuelans I think it would also be important to know Portuguese. For that reason, we should evaluate the possibility of it being taught in our schools.
    • Hugo Chávez during his television/radio show ¡Aló Presidente! on October 2, 2005.
  • The descendants of those who crucified Christ... have taken ownership of the riches of the world, a minority has taken ownership of the gold of the world, the silver, the minerals, water, the good lands, petrol, well, the riches, and they have concentrated the riches in a small number of hands.
    • Christmas Speech at a rehabilitation center on December 24th, 2005. [10]
  • Let the dogs of the empire bark, that's their job; ours is to battle to achieve the true liberation of our people.
  • What they have implanted here, which is really a 'gringo' custom, is terrorism. They disguise children as witches and wizards, that is contrary to our culture.
  • The World has enough for everybody, but some minorities, the descendants of the same people that crucified Christ, and of those that expelled Bolívar from here and in their own way crucified him . . . have taken control of the riches of the world.
    • Chavez is invoking a Christian metaphor to condemn capitalism in this Christmas address, December 24, 2005, which some commentators have taken to be a reference to the Jews. [13] [14]


Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulphur still today.
I nationalize strategic companies and get criticized, but when Bush does it, it's OK.
  • We see here a model social state like the one we are beginning to create.
    • Hugo Chávez to reporters during a state visit to Minsk, Belarus, on July 25, 2006. [15]
  • I have found yet another friend here. And with such a friend we will together form a team, like a soccer team. This will be a fighting team.
    • Hugo Chávez, referring to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, to reporters during a state visit to Minsk, Belarus, on July 25, 2006. [16]
  • [I admire] your wisdom and strength. [...] We are with you and with Iran forever. As long as we remain united we will be able to defeat [U.S.] imperialism, but if we are divided they will push us aside.
  • Let's save the human race, let's finish off the U.S. empire
    • Hugo Chávez on the Islamic Republic Medal ceremony at Tehran University in Iran. July 30th, 2006.[18]
  • Israel has gone mad. It's attacking, doing the same thing to the Palestinian and Lebanese people that they have criticised - and with reason - the Holocaust. But this is a new Holocaust.
    • In protest of Israel's military offensive in Lebanon.[19]
  • The Devil is right at home. The Devil, the Devil himself, is right in the house.
    And the Devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here. [crosses himself] And it smells of sulphur still today.
    Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the Devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.


  • Go to hell, gringos! Go home!...What does the empire want? Condoleezza said it. How are you? You’ve forgotten me, missy...Condoleezza said it clearly, it’s about creating a new geopolitical map in the Middle East...They took out Saddam Hussein and they hung him, for better or worse. It’s not up to me to judge any government, but that gentleman was the president of that country.
    • Weekly radio address [20] (January 21, 2007)
  • Fascists are not human. A snake is more human.
    • Referring to Mr Aznar as a fascist, November 2007.[21]
  • If the United States was mad enough to attack Iran or aggress Venezuela again the price of a barrel of oil could reach $150 or even $200.
    • Opening remarks at the OPEC Summit, November 2007.[22]


Quotes about Chávez

  • Mr. Chávez is my brother, he is a friend of the Iranian nation and the people seeking freedom around the world. He works perpetually against the dominant system. He is a worker of God and servant of the people.
    • Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad upon decorating Chávez with the "Higher Medal of the Islamic Republic of Iran" (July 28, 2006). [23]
  • 1.- Luis Miquilena, a political mentor who helped steer Chavez to the presidency in 1998, has done an about-face since leaving the government in 2002. This week, he described it as a "hypocritical authoritarianism that tries to sell the world certain democratic appearances". 2.- He said of him:... he is made for the confrontation... his style of governing was an almost of teenager... he is not a man furnished well mentally... he has not definite ideology... he is incendiary... he is erratic... he is unpunctual... he is disordered... is lover of luxury... he is limited... he is emotive... he was operating with total arbitrariness, as if he was handling a personal ranch... "annotate me there, to give 4 billions to this bank"... he has not rules of control... he does not know of finance... "Fidel had put in his head from a beginning, the idea that he could to be assassinated".

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