The Who2 Blog

Hugo Chavez Biography: 1954-2013

Hugo Chavez photo, with him grinning for microphones

Hugo Chavez is dead.

The Venezuelan president lost his rather violent struggle with cancer today. Chavez first said he had cancer in 2011, though he kept the exact type a secret. He underwent four different surgeries in Cuba, the last in December. It wasn’t enough. He was only 58.

Hugo Chavez had just won another six-year term last October with 54% of the vote. He campaigned on his platform of 21st-century socialism, the “Bolivarian revolution” as he called it: using Venezuela’s oil wealth to fund social programs (and prop up his own popularity). 

Photo of Hugo Chavez at a podium, speaking while gesticulating with his left hand

Chavez was a great one for tangling with American leaders, especially President George W. Bush. He spoke the day after Bush at the United Nations in 2006, and in an inspired bit of rhetoric he crossed himself at the podium and said, “The devil came here yesterday… and it still smells of sulfur.”

Jump to the 1:50 mark for the big moment… just after Chavez stops hawking Noam Chomsky‘s book. (Yes, really.)

Hugo Chavez knew how to push buttons. The people of Venezuela ate it up, which is why he was in power for 14 years. But no more.

What’s next? “Under the constitution, the head of Venezuela’s Congress, Diosdado Cabello, will assume the interim presidency before an election is held,” says the BBC. Adds Reuters:

The vote should be held within 30 days and will likely pit Maduro against Henrique Capriles, the centrist opposition leader and state governor who lost to Chavez in the October election.
One recent opinion poll gave Maduro a strong lead because he is Chavez’s preferred successor, enjoys support among many if the working class and could benefit from an inevitable surge of emotion in the coming days.


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