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Hugo Chávez served as president of Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013. During his presidency, he sold oil to Cuba and resisted efforts to stop narcotic trafficking in Columbia, and subsequently strained relations with the United States.
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Born in Sabaneta, Venezuela, on July 28, 1954, Hugo Chávez attended the Venezuelan military academy and served as an army officer before participating in an effort to overthrow the government in 1992, for which he was sentenced to two years in prison. Chávez became president of Venezuela in 1999. Early into his presidency, he created a new constitution for the country,
"The left is back, and it's the only path we have to get out of the spot to which the right has sunken us. Socialism builds and capitalism destroys."
which included changing its name to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. He later focused his efforts on gaining control of the state-run oil company, which stirred controversy and led to protests, strained relations with the United States and other nations, and Chávez briefly being removed from power. His actions included selling oil to Cuba and resisting efforts to stop narcotic trafficking in Columbia. In 2006, Chávez helped create the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a socialist free-trade organization. He died on March 5, 2013, at age 58, following a long battle with cancer.
Born Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías on July 28, 1954, in Sabaneta, Venezuela, Hugo Chávez was the son of schoolteachers. Before becoming known for his reform efforts and strong opinions as president of Venezuela (1999-2013), Chávez attended the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences, where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in military arts and science. He went on to serve as an officer in an army paratrooper unit.
In 1992, Chávez, along with other disenchanted members of the military, attempted to overthrow the government of Carlos Andres Perez. The coup failed, and Chávez subsequently spent two years in prison before being pardoned. He then started the Movement of the Fifth Republic, a revolutionary political party. Chávez ran for president in 1998, campaigning against government corruption and promising economic reforms.
After taking office in 1999, Chávez set out to change the Venezuelan constitution, amending the powers of congress and the judicial system. As a part of the new constitution, the name of the country was changed to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
As president, Chávez encountered challenges both at home and abroad. His efforts to tighten his hold on the state-run oil company in 2002 stirred up controversy and led to numerous protests, and he found himself removed from power briefly in April 2002 by military leaders. The protests continued after his return to power, leading to a referendum on whether Chávez should remain president. The referendum vote was held in August 2004, and a majority of voters decided to let Chávez complete his term in office.
Chávez was known for being outspoken and dogmatic throughout his presidency, refusing to hold back any of his opinions or criticisms. He insulted oil executives, church officials and other world leaders, and was particularly hostile with the United States government, which, he believed, was responsible for the failed 2002 coup against him.
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