The former socialist president, Hugo Chavez, who underwent numerous treatments for cancer died on Tuesday. The Venezuelan revolutionary rose to power, govern with an iron first and succeeded the political odds while defying influential nations like the United States (U.S) along other powerful nations.
The election of Chavez as president in 1998 was a transformative moment in the country's history. He reshaped the political process unlike any other predecessor before him. His 14 years in power were uncharacteristic, at times controversial given his numerous speeches that openly insulted other important and former political figures like George W. Bush for example.
The charismatic leftist leader reformed the country's constitution, proposed a new socialist program that practically spread to every corner of the nation. It did not just stop there since his political program spread to other countries that implemented a similar socialist regime in countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, etc.
The leader of the so-called 21st century socialism had close ties to Cuba's Fidel Castro, who he considered a pupil of his. The relationship resulted in a mutually beneficial transaction since Castro's regime benefited with a substantial boost from oil exports.
Another byproduct of his socialist government has left behind the Venezuelan population polarized and divided. It cannot be denied that time and time again he nearly won elections by large margins making him the true candidate of the masses.
The prevalent problems that plagued the country until the present time is the rampant crime ,exponential inflation, confrontations with the press, kidnappings, food shortages and among other issues. But his reign during his entire political career will forever live on bringing a sense of hope to the Bolivarian nation.
The constitution does mandate that elections be held in 30 days, so this will be an interesting transition for the country to continue marching on with the Chavez ideals. There is much uncertainty surrounding the continuation of an iconic revolution, and its certain the people there will attempt to show resiliency in times of economic hardship exist around the globe.
The passing of Chavez has awaken a consciousness for Venezuelans, and serves as an echo for the rest of Latin America to get its act together to forge perhaps a new alliance. The country has its worked cut out for them, but its to the people of Venezuelans to find the answers.
- A former lieutenant colonel, Chavez spent much of his later military career conspiring with other leftist officials to overthrow the country's corrupt political order. He led a 1992 coup that failed but made him famous and propelled him toward the presidency.
- "Chavez won power at a presidential election in 1998 and took office the following year. Opposition politicians and dissident military officers led a coup against Chavez in 2002, but supporters and loyal soldiers swept him back into power in less than two days. Chavez accuses Washington of supporting the putsch."
- "Chavez has won the backing of the poor majority with massive social spending that has expanded health and education programs. He has also cultivated support by openly confronting the United States, which he describes as a decadent empire."
- "Born to a poor family in Venezuela's plains, Chavez once aspired to be a painter and later dreamed of being a professional baseball player. To this day he explains politics through baseball metaphors, frequently referencing his "pig's tail" curveball."
- "Chavez has a folksy Caribbean style and is famous for his long-winded speeches that often drag on into the early morning. His weekly Sunday talk show has gone on as long as eight hours."
The Guardian's data on Venezuela under Hugo Chavez (click here for original source)
- "Unemployment has dropped from 14.5% of the total labour force in 1999 to 7.6% in 2009"
- "Population has increased from 23,867,000 in 1999 to 29,278,000 in 2011. The annual population growth was 1.5% in 2011 compared with 1.9% in 1999"
- "GDP per capita has risen from $4,105 to $10,801 in 2011"
- "As you can see in the graphic chart, Venezuela's inflation has fluctuated since 1999. Inflation now stands at 31.6% compared with 23.6% in 1999"
- "Venezuela has a complicated history concerning currency exchange rates. Compared with 1999 when the exchange rate was under one bolivar to the US dollar, the latest figures from Reuters place it at 4.3 Bolivars to one dollar"
- "Poverty has decreased - in 1999, 23.4% of the population were recorded as being in extreme poverty, this fell to 8.5% in 2011 according to official government figures"
- "Infant mortality is now lower than in 1999 - from a rate of 20 per 1,000 live births then to a rate of 13 per 1,000 live births in 2011"
- "Violence has been a key concern in Venezuela for some time - figures from the UNODC state that the murder rate has risen since 1999. In 2011 the intentional homicide rate per 100,000 population was 45.1 compared with 25.0 just twelve years earlier"
- "Oil exports have boomed - Venezuela has one of the top proven oil reserves in the world and in 2011 Opec put the country's net oil export revenues at $60bn. In 1999 it stood at $14.4bn"