Hugo Chavez

Leader of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013

Essential Question:

What actions and events lead to Hugo Chavez being considered one of the most controversial leaders in Latin America?

Early Life:

  • born July 28th, 1954 in Sabaneta, Venezuela
  • the son of two school teachers
  • attended Venezuelan Military Academy and received a degree in military arts and science
  • served as an army officer
  • known as a driven person and very likely to succeed

Rise to Power:

  • Chavez became interested in leftist politics, particularly admiring 19th century revolutionary and independence hero Simon Bolivar and founded the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement in 1982
  • He was able to spark other people's interest and encourage them to become involved
  • First came into the public eye through a failed coup attempt he lead against the president, Carlos Andres Perez in 1992 and was imprisoned for two years
  • After returning from prison, he relaunched his political opposition party as the Movement of the Fifth Republic and transitioned from solider to politician
  • In 1998, Chavez ran for president and campaigned as the "Candidate of the People". He won the election due to his passion and ability to win people over through his inspiring speeches especially the poor and unemployed
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Negative Impacts of Hugo Chavez's presidency:

  • International relations became extremely poor under Chavez's rule. Venezuela has very few allies except for other controversial leaders such as Ahmadinejad, Gaddafi and Castro. Chavez's Anti American and Imperialist rhetoric as well as open criticizing of the USA has created hostility between the two nations.
  • The constitution was changed so that Chavez had no limit to how long he could stay in power which shows his craving for power and the absence of democracy as he continued to centralize all power into his hands.
  • Venezuela has become one of the most dangerous and corrupt countries in the world. Crime rates are higher than ever and kidnappings and homicides have become part of every day life to many Venezuelan citizens. Several government officials are known to be involved in drug and weapons trafficking and other illegal businesses.
  • Inflation and national debt rates are growing, the country is in its worst economic state.
  • Journalists and judges who opposed Chavez were jailed and human rights inspectors were denied access to the country.
  • Frequently clashed with church leaders

Positive Impacts of Hugo Chavez's Presidency:

  • "Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless".
  • Chavez inspired Venezuelans and made them proud to be citizens of his country.
  • His goal was to create social equality and better opportunities for poor and indigenous people. He was the first Indigenous president and used his heritage to relate others who were like him.
  • Initiated many projects to help the lower class such as MERCAL which is a state run low cost supermarkets for people on low incomes. He also improved transportation, housing, health care and greatly improved the literacy rates in Venezuela.
  • Land was given to the poor and he created many jobs for them
  • Venezuela is the largest oil exporter in the Western Hemisphere
Hugo Chavez's legacy
The video describing Hugo Chavez's legacy shows that he was a very complex and controversial leader. During Hugo Chavez's 14 year rule in Venezuela, he gained a reputation of both a hero and a dictator. To many he was seen as a hero because of his ability to inspire his people and convince them to love and admire him. His strong rhetoric gave people hope that he could lead them to a better Venezuela. He appealed to the lower class and used the oil reserve to fund projects such as free education and healthcare that would benefit the poor. The lower class saw him as a solution to their problems and put their trust in him. Chavez made his people feel proud to be Venezuelan and expressed his strong nationalist feelings throughout his speeches. There are also many critics of Hugo Chavez that say he failed to improve Venezuela and abolished democracy. He changed the constitution to give himself more power and promised people a better economy, but the country is in its worse economic state. During his rule, violent crimes as well as drug trafficking increased higher than ever. Many government officials were found to be involved in drug trafficking, and the country is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world. His friendship with other controversial leaders around the world shows his allegiance to autocratic governments and dictatorships. Today, Chavez's legacy is a very controversial topic because people around the world all have very different opinions about him and his leadership.
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Letter to Hugo Chavez:

President Chavez,


I am an ordinary citizen of Venezuela who is affected by the violence in my country along with many others around me. My children have grown up accustomed to the sound of gunshots at night and seeing drugs and weapons displayed openly on the streets around our home. Each day, there is news of someone else in our community attacked, kidnapped and even murdered. Many times, these crimes are overlooked or concealed by authority. It has been very difficult to raise good and honest children when they are surrounded by a corrupt society. In many ways, you have made life better for my family along with many others in Venezuela. We have access to better healthcare because of your actions and my children are able to get an education that I never would have had the chance of getting. By sending this letter, I hope you may recognize and act against the violent crimes and corrupt society that is tearing families like mine apart. I know that you have dedicated your presidency to helping out people like me; the lower class. Ending the violence and injustice in Venezuela would be the best way to help families all through out our country and would save countless numbers of lives.


A concerned citizen




Works Cited:


  • "Chávez, Hugo." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 494-495. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
  • "Hugo Chávez Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
  • "Profile: Hugo Chavez." BBC News. BBC, 18 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
  • "Venezuelan Voices: Life and Country after Hugo Chavez." Fox News. FOX News Network, 07 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.