Hugo Chávez

Ruthless Authoritarian, or Commander for a Better Future?

Early Deeds of El Comandanté and The Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement

Born on the 28th of July 1954, in Sabaneta, Venezuela, he joined the Venezuelan Armed Forces as a paratrooper soon after graduating. While there, he saw the corruption that ran deep in the ranked officers and soon planned to change that. He formed the BRM, inspired by Venezuelan independence hero Simón Bolívar. With this anti-corruption organization, he led 12,000 troops in a coup against the corrupt leader, Carlos Pérez. While the coup failed and Chávez was sent to jail for two years, he gained a lot of popularity among the people, especially the poor, as a passionate man determined to bring about change.

President of Venezuela and Influential Leader

Believing that socialism is the path to a new and improved world instead of capitalism, he took power in 1998, openly opposing US “imperialism” in favor of a left-wing government. In another election in 2000, he won with over 60% of the votes. He fought to give the people what was theirs, since before him, only 3% of the population controlled over 70% of the land. He also brought new hospitals all over, literacy and paved roads to the poor parts of the nation, and formed one big labor union to benefit the working class. He nationalized several companies in the oil industry as well.

"Chavez understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empower the powerless" said US Rep Joseph Serrano, after Chávez's death.

His rise to power brought change throughout Latin America. He inspired several other countries to vote for other left-wing leaders, each of varying degree, including in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador. With his example, they all targeted their respective nation's poverty and social injustices. He also saved many Caribbean nations from economic collapse by selling Venezuelan oil to them cheap. He gained many allies through his endeavors, the biggest of which were the Castros of Cuba. He became the idealogical heir of Fidel, who was his mentor and political father figure.

Legacy and Controversy

Joseph P. Kennedy II, chairman of non-profit Citizens Energy said, "There are close to two million people in the United States who received free heating assistance, thanks to President Chavez's leadership. Our prayers go out to President Chavez's family, the people of Venezuela, and all who were warmed by his generosity."

This quote is one of many that shows how much people would miss him after his death in March 6, 2013 after a long battle with cancer. Many World Leaders have mourned his death, and the people of Venezuela say they feel as if they lost a member of their own families.

While even President Barrack Obama holds to support Venezuela in the troubling times after his death, many people, mostly of US, feel that Chávez's death is a good thing, saying he was a destabilizing force in Latin America, and even saying things along the lines of "Thus always to tyrants."