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Hugo Chavez died
March 5, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan President, Dead at 58

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's fiery and controversial socialist president who came to power on wave of popular sentiment and befriended some of the world's most nefarious dictators, has died at the age of 58, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said today.

Chavev had been fighting cancer, recently seeking treatment at a clinic in Cuba.

A self-described champion of the poor who first tried to overturn Venezuela's powerful elites in a failed 1992 coup, Chavez was democratically elected in 1999, with huge support from the country's poor.

During his time in office, he became one of Latin America's most well-known and polarizing figures. A constant thorn in the side of the United States, he commanded headlines in newspapers around the world. A populist who suppressed free speech, he remained immensely popular among his country's poor.

From the time he won election in 1999, Chavez held onto power through tightly controlling the media and through a series of populist elections and referenda, including one that allowed him to seek a limitless number of terms.

Chavez, whose public appearances diminished in months received his first surgery and chemotherapy treatment for cancer in Cuba in 2011.

He returned to Cuba, a guest of that country's ailing socialist leader Fidel Castro, for treatment and surgery in February 2012.

Chavez announced on Dec. 8 on state television that he would travel back to Cuba to undergo surgery since his pelvic cancer had "returned."

Despite his ailing health, Chavez was reelected last year.

Chavez was born in 1954 in the town of Sabenta, Venezuela. Both his parents were schoolteachers. A military academy graduate and a decorated paratrooper, in the 1980s he and a group of officers founded an underground socialist organization named for the 19th century South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar.

Full Coverage: Hugo Chavez

In 1992 that group, the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement, led a failed coup that ended with 18 people killed and Chavez imprisoned.

Chavez spent two years in prison before receiving a pardon. After leaving prison, he rebranded his movement into a populist party called the Movement of the Fifth Republic and replaced his military uniform with business attire, or oftentimes a red shirt or red track suit.

Venezuela has one of the longest democratic traditions in Latin America, but by the early 1990s many of the country's working and middle class people were disenchanted with the country's two primary political parties, both of which suffered from endemic corruption.

Chavez, an icon from his prison days, promised to rid the country of corruption and pledged to divert revenue from the country's ample oil sales to projects aimed at helping the poor, including improved education and health care. Unemployment and poverty, however, remain high despite the country's oil wealth.

Always the firebrand, Chavez created a series of bogeymen on which the Venezuelan people could pin their frustrations, firing jabs at traditional spheres of power and influence, including the oil companies, the Catholic Church and the United States.

In a public address he once said of oil executives that they live in "luxury chalets where they perform orgies, drinking whisky."

He accused the church hierarchy of ignoring the plight of the poor, claiming Jesus would have been a socialist and priests "do not walk in ... the path of Christ."


  • talia-mom
    March 5, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    I have some friends that will be celebrating tonight.

  • Cubanmom84
    March 5, 2013 at 5:02 PM
    Hallelujah !!! When is Fidel Castro next?!
  • Sekirei
    by Sekirei
    March 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Quoting Cubanmom84:

    Hallelujah !!! When is Fidel Castro next?!

    Him and kim jong-un

  • sherry132
    March 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM

     Ding dong the dick is gone. Yah, no loss there.

  • soonergirl980
    March 5, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Can't say it's a loss for the world.

  • IhaveHisjoy
    March 5, 2013 at 6:05 PM

     Another evil will replace him...

  • squeekers
    March 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

     dispite all his problems in & with the world, rest in peace.

  • nb34
    by nb34
    March 5, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    I don't know much about the man besides the popular American media's portrayal of him and that is not enough for me to form an educated opinion about him in any way. So I guess until I find a time to read a couple of academic books about him, I say RIP.

  • Donna6503
    March 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM
    How soon do you think we will hear, that he was poison by the CIA. The man maybe dead; but, his reign of terror will continue throughout the region.
  • survivorinohio
    March 5, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Quoting Donna6503:

    How soon do you think we will hear, that he was poison by the CIA. The man maybe dead; but, his reign of terror will continue throughout the region.

    He was convinced that HAARP gave him the cancer, wasnt he?

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