R.I.P. Hugo Chavez

From Yahoo News.

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday after his battle with cancer, ending the socialist leader’s extraordinary 14-year rule of the OPEC nation.

Here are some key facts about Chavez:

* Born to a poor family in Venezuela’s plains, or “llanos,” on July 28, 1954, Chavez once aspired to be a painter and then a professional baseball player in the U.S. Major Leagues.

* His impoverished but happy childhood in rural Venezuela often were fodder for the folksy anecdotes he used when talking about politics. Combined with formidable charisma, his humble roots helped him forge a strong emotional connection with many of Venezuela’s poor, who saw him almost like one of the family.

* A former lieutenant colonel, Chavez spent much of his military career conspiring with other leftist soldiers to overthrow the traditional political order.

* He led a 1992 coup against then-President Carlos Andres Perez that failed but launched his political career. A brief speech while he was being led away to jail, wearing his trademark red beret, electrified many Venezuelans and propelled him toward the presidency as a populist leader.

* After being pardoned, Chavez toured the country before winning a 1998 election. He took office early the following year. For many poor voters, he symbolized a fresh start after decades of governments widely seen as self-serving and corrupt.

* Private media and business leaders remained staunchly against Chavez, however, and in 2002 a group of opposition politicians and dissident troops staged a coup. Chavez was arrested and flown to a military base on a Caribbean island.

* Two days later, loyal military officers and protests by supporters swept him back to power. Chavez accused the United States of being behind the putsch, and said he feared he was about to be killed. The drama of his return as president took on almost religious overtones for some passionate “Chavistas.”

* Chavez enjoyed wide backing among the poor majority partly due to massive state spending to expand health and education programs, financed by income from oil exports. He also cultivated support by confronting the United States, which he denounced as a decadent, war-mongering empire.

* Several times he threatened to stop oil shipments to the United States – including when he accused then-U.S. President George W. Bush of backing the 2002 coup – but never did so. The United States remains Venezuela’s biggest oil export market, but Chavez also increased fuel sales to China and anti-Western states such as Belarus, Iran and Syria.

* Inspired by his friend and mentor, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Chavez took Venezuela down an increasingly radical path, nationalizing much of the economy and running the government with a micro-managing – and many said autocratic – style.

* Opponents accused Chavez of repressing critics, squandering record oil revenues and scaring away investors by seizing assets ranging from shops and farms to multibillion-dollar refinery projects run by foreign energy companies.

* Chavez adopted a deliberately populist style, using colorful and strong language that drew on the macho culture of the “llanos” of his youth, and the barracks of his military career. Like Castro, he was known for long-winded televised speeches that often dragged late into the night. In 2012, he broke his own record by speaking for nearly 10 hours.

* Chavez was married twice. He has three daughters and a son. He and his second wife, a journalist and politician, divorced in 2000. Little is known about his private life as president, but he has often mentioned enjoying watching baseball on TV, reading, and listening to folk music from the “llanos.”

* Chavez announced in mid-2011 that he was being treated for cancer. He underwent four operations in Cuba, as well as grueling chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He wrongly declared himself cured twice.

* Chavez won re-election in October 2012 with 55 percent of the vote, but was too ill to be sworn in for his new six-year term beginning on January 10. Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled that he remained president, even in the hospital.

* He flew back to Venezuela in February and went straight to a military hospital in Caracas to continue receiving treatment.

* On March 5, 2013, his vice president said he had died.

(Editing by Kieran Murray and Stacey Joyce)

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7 thoughts on “R.I.P. Hugo Chavez

  1. I knew he was sick but for some reason I thought he would pull through. I know Chavez had his faults and I didn’t agree with everything he said. But I do remember him giving aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. He also said President Bush was a devil so he couldn’t be all that bad,right?lol But I remember Chavez and two other leaders from Latin countries getting cancer at the same time. I think it was Brazil and South Anerica. I could be wrong about that. Hmmmmm…….just seems a bit odd. What do you think?

  2. From Cree’s blog: Over 18 months period four progressive leaders of Latin America were diagnosed with cancer.

    In August of 2010 60-year-old Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was diagnosed with a tumor of lymphatic system.

    In October of 2011,66-year-old former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was diagnosed with larynx cancer, nine months after the transfer of power to Dilma Russef. The doctors did not operate on Lulu, saying that as a result he may lose his voice forever – an extremely important tool for policy and communication.the ex-president who had a firm intention to return to politics.
    At the end of June of 2011, 57-year-old Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was diagnosed with pelvic cancer.
    In late December of 2011, media reported that 58-year-old Argentine President Cristina Kirchner would undergo surgery for cancer of the thyroid gland. Kirchner was re-elected for the second term in December of 2011 and takes a firm anti-American stance.
    I thought this was very interesting. At the very least some food for thought.

  3. I was totaly ignorant about this man. All I knew was that he was President of Venuezula. He was dying of cancer. I saw several black news blogs and blogsites and want to know why did black people have an interest in him? I later decided to go read up on him and learned that even though he was not a saint, He did have a heart for the people of his nation. He cared about the poor and disenfranchised. He cared about getting rid of illiteracy and educating his people. He care about health care for the people. These things in my estimation were humanitarian efforts to help his people. So Rest In Peace Hugo Chavez. I also didn’t know that he had an african bloodline. Kind of similar to Obama’s African heritage. I an now somewhat enlightened this evening.

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