On 5 March 2013, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died at the age of 58. He considered himself a revolutionary and liberator, was friends with Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko and Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias was born July 28, 1954 in the town of Sabaneta, Barinas, Venezuela in a large family of a schoolteacher. Immediately after school, Hugo Chavez entered the Military Academy of Venezuela, from which he graduated in 1975 with the rank of second lieutenant. He served in airborne units and the red beret of paratrooper later became an integral part of his image.
In 1982 (according to other sources – while studying at the Academy) Chavez, along with co-workers created COMACATE (an abbreviation of the first two letters of rank: Commander, Major, Captain, Teniente, which means lieutenant). Chavez at once became the undisputed leader of the organization. Over time, COMACATE transformed into the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement, named after the hero of the national war for independence Simon Bolivar.
In February 1992, Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez led a coup against Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, unpopular because of the high level of corruption and policies to reduce government spending. Chavez was to create a military-civilian junta with people not subjected to corruption and to convene a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. However, the government managed to stop the attempted of mutiny. Chavez surrendered to authorities and was placed into a military prison. He had been imprisoned for two years, and was released under the amnesty in 1994. He organized his supporters into the Fifth Republic Movement and joined the armed struggle for legal political activity.
In 1998, Hugo Chavez ran for the president with anti-corruption program. On 6 December 1998, he won a landslide victory in the presidential election with 56.5% of votes. Three months later, on July 25, Chavez supporters triumphed in the elections for the unicameral assembly.
New government has established firm control over the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, whose profits were directed to the needs of society: the construction of hospitals and schools, the fight against illiteracy, agrarian reform and other social programs. All contributed to the massive popularity of the new leader of the poor majority. Based on its support, Chavez began nationalizing companies in various industries. In 1999, Venezuela adopted a new constitution, and 30 July 2000 was held new general elections, which Chavez won with 60% of votes. Since then, Chavez’ policy, called Bolivarian Socialism, has shifted to the left.
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