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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.
Hugo Chavez - Mini Biography (2:59)
Born in Venezuela in1954, Hugo Chávez served in the army before trying to overthrow the government in 1992. Chávez became president of Venezuela in 1999, and created a new constitution for the country. He died of cancer on March 5, 2013.
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Chávez also objected to the war in Iraq, stating his belief that the United States had abused its powers by initiating the military effort. He also called President George W. Bush an evil imperialist.
Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been strained for some time. After taking office,
Chávez sold oil to Cuba—a longtime adversary of the United States—and resisted U.S. plans to stop narcotics trafficking in nearby Colombia. He also helped guerrilla forces in neighboring countries. Additionally, during his presidency, Chávez threatened to stop supplying oil to the United States if there was another attempt to remove him from power. He did, however, donate heating oil to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which destroyed numerous fuel-processing facilities.
Regardless of the state of Venezuela's relationship with the United States, while in office, Chávez leveraged his country's oil resources to form connections with other nations, including China and Angola. In 2006, he helped create the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a socialist free-trade organization joined by Fidel Castro, president of Cuba, and Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. Chávez was also an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement, a group of more than 100 countries, including Cuba, Iran and several African nations.
Chávez discovered that he had cancer in June 2011, following a surgery to remove a pelvic abscess, and from 2011 to early 2012, he underwent three surgeries to remove cancerous tumors.
Prior to his third surgery, in February 2012, Chávez acknowledged the severity of the operation as well as the possibility of not being able to continue his service as president, and subsequently named Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his successor. Due to his declinging health, Chávez was prevented from being inaugurated for a fourth term in January 2013.
Following his years-long battle with cancer, Hugo Chávez died on March 5, 2013, at age 58, in Venezuela. He was survived by his wife, Maria Isabel Rodriguez, and five children: Rosines, María Gabriela, Rosa Virginia and Hugo Rafael. Two days after Chavez's death, Vice President Maduro announced that Chavez's body would be preserved and permanently displayed inside a glass tomb now under construction in a Caracas museum. The site, located not far from the palace where Chavez ruled for more than a decade, has been called el Museo Histórico Militar de Caracas.
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