Hugo Chávez

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Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías
Image:Chavez CASA cropped 1.jpg


In office
February 2, 1999 – April 11, 2002
April 13, 2002 - present
Preceded by Rafael Caldera (1999)
Diosdado Cabello (2002)
Succeeded by Pedro Carmona (2002) Incumbent

Born July 28, 1954
Sabaneta, Barinas, Venezuela
Political party Fifth Republic Movement

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Image:Venezuela coat of arms.png

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Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (IPA: ['uɰo rafa'el 'tʃaβes 'fɾias]) (born July 28, 1954) is the 53rd<ref>Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. "Cuadro de Presidentes Venezolanos". Retrieved Internet Archive, 25 Nov 2004. (Spanish)</ref> and current President of Venezuela. As the leader of the "Bolivarian Revolution," Chávez promotes his vision of democratic socialism,<ref>Munckton, Stuart. "Chavez steps up calls for socialism", ZNet, 2005-03-13. Retrieved on 2006-06-04.</ref> Latin American integration, and anti-imperialism. He is also an ardent critic of neoliberal globalisation and U.S. foreign policy.<ref> Ellner, Steve. "The 'Radical' Thesis on Globalisation and the Case of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez" Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 29, No. 6, Globalization and Globalism in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Nov., 2002), pp. 88-93. Stable URL.</ref>

A career military officer, Chávez founded the leftist Fifth Republic Movement after orchestrating a failed 1992 coup d'état against former president Carlos Andrés Pérez. Chávez was elected President in 1998<ref>McCoy and Trinkunas (Feb 1999), p. 49.</ref> on promises of aiding Venezuela's poor majority, and was reelected in 2000 and 2006. Domestically, Chávez has launched Bolivarian Missions, whose goals are to combat disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty, and other social ills. Abroad, Chávez has acted against the Washington Consensus by supporting alternative models of economic development, and has advocated cooperation among the world's poor nations, especially those in Latin America.

Chávez's reforms have evoked exceptional controversy in Venezuela and abroad, receiving both criticism and praise. Venezuelans are split between those who say he has empowered the poor and stimulated economic growth, and those who say he is autocratic and has mismanaged the economy.[citation needed] Some foreign governments view Chávez as a threat to global oil prices and regional stability, while others welcome his bilateral trade and reciprocal aid agreements.

Whether viewed as a socialist liberator or an authoritarian demagogue, Chávez remains one of the most complex, controversial, and interesting figures in contemporary politics. In May 2006 he was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.<ref name=influence>Padgett, Tim. "Hugo Chavez: Leading the Left-Wing Charge", 2006-05-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-26.</ref>

On December 3, 2006 Chávez faced Manuel Rosales (among others) in the 2006 Venezuelan presidential election. Preliminary reports from Electoral National Counsel (CNE)<ref>[1]</ref>, gave Chávez 61.3% of the total votes. This preliminary results implied the practical reelection of Chávez as the President for another six years.


[edit] Early life (1954–1992)

Image:Hugo Chavez uniform.jpg
In the military, Chávez rapidly rose through the ranks while developing his ideology of "Bolivarianism" with associates.

Chávez was born on July 28, 1954 in the town of Sabaneta, Barinas. The second son of two schoolteachers, Hugo de los Reyes Chávez and Elena Frías de Chávez, he is of mixed Amerindian, African, and Spanish descent. Chávez was raised in a thatched palm leaf house near Sabaneta. At an early age, Chávez was sent to Sabaneta with his older brother Adán to live with his paternal grandmother, Rosa Inés Chávez. There, Chávez pursued hobbies such as painting, singing, and baseball, while also attending elementary school at the Julián Pino School. He was later forced to relocate to the town of Barinas to attend high school at the Daniel Florencio O'Leary School.<ref name=GovtVen>Government of Venezuela, Gobierno En Línea (2005). "Presidente Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías", Gobierno En Línea. Accessed 15 June 2006. (Spanish)</ref>

At age seventeen, Chávez enrolled at the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences. After graduating in 1975 as a sub-lieutenant with a degree in Military Arts and Science, Chávez entered military service for several months. He was then allowed to pursue graduate studies in political science at Caracas' Simón Bolívar University, but left without a degree.<ref name=GovtVen/>

Over the course of his college years, Chávez and fellow students developed a fervently left-nationalist doctrine that they termed "Bolivarianism," inspired by the Pan-Americanist philosophies of 19th-century Venezuelan revolutionary Simón Bolívar, the influence of former Peruvian President Juan Velasco Alvarado and the teachings of various socialist and communist leaders.<ref>Hugo Chávez Venezuela's Redeemer Burt, Jo-Marie & Rosen, Fred: May 2000</ref> Chávez engaged in sporting events and cultural activities during these years as well. Notably, Chávez played both baseball and softball with the Criollitos de Venezuela, progressing with them to the Venezuelan National Baseball Championships in 1969. Chávez also authored numerous poems, stories and theatrical pieces.<ref name=GovtVen/>

Upon completing his studies, Chávez initially entered active-duty military service as a member of a counter insurgency battalion stationed in Barinas. Chávez's military career lasted 17 years, during which time he held a variety of post, command, and staff positions, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Chávez also held a series of teaching and staffing positions at the Military Academy of Venezuela, where he was first acknowledged by his peers for his fiery lecturing style and radical critique of Venezuelan government and society.<ref>Gott, Richard. (The Guardian, 25 Aug 2005). "Two fingers to America". Retrieved 18 Oct 2005.</ref> At this time, Chávez established the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200). Afterwards, he rose to fill a number of sensitive high-level positions in Caracas and was decorated several times.<ref name=GovtVen/>

[edit] Coup attempt of 1992

Image:Hugo Chávez (1992 Coup Surrender).jpg
Chávez calls for the surrender of all forces on national TV.
Image:Chavez 1994 AFP 1.jpg
Chávez interviewed following his 1994 release from prison. Although the coup for which Chávez was imprisoned failed, it elevated him into the national spotlight.

After an extended period of popular dissatisfaction and economic decline<ref>Schuyler, George W. (2001), "Health and Neoliberalism: Venezuela and Cuba", The Policy Studies Organization.</ref> under the administration of President Carlos Andrés Pérez and the violent repression known as El Caracazo,<ref>Inter-American Court of Human Rights Del Caracazo Case Judgment of 11 November 1999 "according to official figures, the events of February and March 1989 left a balance of 276 dead, numerous injured, several disappeared and heavy material losses. However, this list was invalidated by the subsequent appearance of mass graves"</ref> Chávez made extensive preparations for a military coup d'état.<ref name="Guillermoprieto 2005">Template:Cite journal</ref> Initially planned for December, Chávez delayed the MBR-200 coup until the early twilight hours of February 4, 1992. On that date, five army units under Chávez's command barreled into urban Caracas with the mission of assaulting and overwhelming key military and communications installations throughout the city, including the Miraflores presidential palace, the defense ministry, La Carlota military airport, and the Historical Museum. Chávez's ultimate goal was to intercept and take custody of Pérez, who was returning to Miraflores from an overseas trip.

Chávez held the loyalty of less than 10% of Venezuela's military forces;<ref>Gott (2005), p.64.</ref> still, numerous betrayals, defections, errors, and other unforeseen circumstances soon left Chávez and a small group of rebels cut off in the Historical Museum, without any means of conveying orders to their network of spies and collaborators spread throughout Venezuela.<ref>Gott (2005), p.63.</ref> Further, Chávez's allies were unable to broadcast their prerecorded tapes on the national airwaves in which Chávez planned to issue a general call for a mass civilian uprising against Pérez. As the coup unfolded, the coup plotters were unable to capture Pérez: fourteen soldiers were killed, and 50 soldiers and some 80 civilians injured in the ensuing violence.<ref> Gott (2005), p.69.</ref> Nevertheless, rebel forces in other parts of Venezuela made advances and were ultimately able to take control of such large cities as Valencia, Maracaibo, and Maracay with the help of spontaneous civilian aid. Chávez's forces, however, had failed to take Caracas.<ref>Gott (2005), pp.66-67.</ref>

Chávez, alarmed, soon gave himself up to the government. He was then allowed to appear on national television to call for all remaining rebel detachments in Venezuela to cease hostilities. When he did so, Chávez famously quipped on national television that he had only failed "por ahora"—"for the moment."<ref>Gott (2005), p. 67. Chávez spoke thus: "Comrades: unfortunately, for the moment, the objectives that we had set for ourselves have not been achieved in the capital. That's to say that those of us here in Caracas have not been able to seize power. Where you are, you have performed well, but now is the time for a rethink; new possibilities will arise again, and the country will be able to move definitively towards a better future."</ref> Chávez was catapulted into the national spotlight, with many poor Venezuelans seeing him as a figure who had stood up against government corruption and kleptocracy.<ref>Gott (2005), p.67.</ref><ref name="keefe_11nov2005">O'Keefe, Derrick. (Z Communications, 09 Mar 2005). "Building a Democratic, Humanist Socialism: The Political Challenge of the 21st Century". Retrieved 11 Nov 2005.</ref> Chávez was sent to Yare prison; meanwhile, Pérez, the coup's intended target, was impeached a year later. While in prison, Chávez developed a carnosity of the eye, which spread to his iris. The clarity of his eyesight was slowly corrupted; despite treatments and operations, Chávez's eyesight was permanently damaged.<ref name="chavez_17sep2005">Chávez, Hugo. [Untitled Speech]. Latino Pastoral Action Center. Bronx, New York City. 17 Sep 2005. Downloadable Audio. Retrieved 05 Nov 2005.</ref>

[edit] Political rise (1992–1999)

Further information: Venezuelan presidential election, 1998
Hugo Chávez's Election Results
1998 presidential election
Source: CNE data
Candidate Votes %
Chávez: 3,673,685 56%
H. Salas: 2,613,161 40%
Valid votes: 6,537,304
Non-voting: 4,024,729 37%

After a two-year imprisonment, Chávez was pardoned by President Rafael Caldera in 1994. Upon his release, Chávez reconstituted the MBR-200 as the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR—Movimiento Quinta República, with the V representing the Roman numeral five). Later, in 1998, Chávez began to campaign for the presidency. In working to gain the trust of voters, Chávez drafted an agenda that drew heavily on his ideology of Bolivarianism. Chávez and his followers described their aim as "laying the foundations of a new republic" to replace the existing one, which they cast as "party-dominated"; the current constitution, they argued, was no more than the 'juridico-political embodiment of puntofijismo,' the country's traditional two-party patronage system.<ref>Chavez's constitutional reform; A Hard Look at the Rationale & Proposals, Latin America Weekly Report, January 12, 1999, Venezuela; Politics; WR-99-02; Pg. 18</ref> Controversially, foreign banks—including Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) and Banco Santander (BSCH), each the owner of one of Venezuela's largest banks—illicitly funneled millions of dollars into Chávez's campaign.<ref>Marcano, Cristina, Barrera Tyszka, Alberto (2005). Hugo Chávez Sin Uniforme: Una Historia Personal. Random House Mondadori, 50. ISBN 9-80293-284-1.. (Spanish)</ref><ref name="Toro 2004">Template:Cite journal</ref>

Chávez utilised his charisma and flamboyant public speaking style—noted for its abundance of colloquialisms and ribald manner—on the campaign trail to win the trust and favor of a primarily poor and working class following. By May 1998, Chávez's support had risen to 30% in polls, and by August he was registering 39%. Chávez went on to win the Carter Center-endorsed 1998 presidential election on December 6, 1998 with 56% of the vote.<ref name="Guillermoprieto 2005"/><ref>McCoy and Trinkunas (Feb 1999).</ref>

[edit] Presidency (1999–present)

Chávez holds up a miniature copy of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution at the 2005 World Social Forum held in Brazil.

Chávez was sworn in as president on February 2, 1999. Among his first acts was the launching of Plan Bolivar 2000, which included road building, housing construction, and mass vaccination.<ref name="Harnecker_2003">Harnecker, M (2003), "The Military and the Revolution: Harnecker interviews Chávez", Z Communications [January 26, 2006]. </ref> Chávez also halted planned privatizations of, among others, the national social security system, aluminum industry holdings, and the oil sector.<ref name="Ellner_2005">Ellner, S (2005), "Venezuela’s “Demonstration Effect”: Defying Globalization’s Logic", North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) [January 26, 2006].</ref> Chávez also overhauled the formerly lax tax collection and auditing system — especially regarding major corporations and landholders — by increasing its fairness and efficiency.

Hugo Chávez's Election Results
1999 referendum
Enact the new constitution?
Option Votes %
Yes: 3,301,475 72%
No: 1,298,105 28%
Abstention: 6,041,743 56%

Responding to the stalling of his legislation in the National Assembly, Chávez scheduled two national elections for July 1999, including a referendum for and elections to fill a new constitutional assembly. The Constitutional Assembly was created when the referendum passed with a 72% "yes" vote, while the pro-Chávez Polo Patriotico ("Patriotic Pole") won 95% (120 out of the total 131) of its seats. In August 1999, the Constitutional Assembly's "Judicial Emergency Committee" declared a "legislative emergency" whereby a seven-member committee conducted the National Assembly's functions; meanwhile, the National Assembly was prohibited from holding meetings.<ref name="Mcgirk_27Dec1999">McGirk, T (1999), "Hugo Chávez Frías", Time [January 25, 2006].</ref> The Constitutional Assembly drafted the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, which included an increase in the presidential term from five to six years, a new presidential two-term limit, a new provision for presidential recall elections, renaming of the country to República Bolivariana de Venezuela, expanded presidential powers, conversion of the bicameral National Assembly into a weakened unicameral legislature, merit-based appointments of judges, and creation of the Public Defender, an office authorized to regulate the activities of the presidency and the National Assembly.<ref>{{{Last}}} (2000), Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela [May 25, 2006]</ref>

In December 1999, the new constitution was approved. On December 15, after weeks of heavy rain, statewide mudslides claimed the lives of an estimated 30,000 people. Critics claim Chávez was distracted by the referendum and that the government ignored a civil defense report, calling for emergency measures, issued the day the floods struck <ref name="BBC_vargas1">BBC News (1999), "Venezuela disaster 'worst this century'", BBC [June 7, 2006]].</ref>. The government rejected these claims. <ref name="BBC_vargas1"/> Chávez personally led the relief effort afterwards. <ref name="BBC_vargas2">BBC News (1999), "Analysis: Floods a test for Chavez", BBC [June 7, 2006]].</ref> Subsequent mudslides in 2000 and 2004 left 14 dead.<ref name="red_cross">Kriner, S (2000), "Flooding Returns to Venezuela", Red Cross [June 7, 2006]].</ref> <ref name="dartmouth">Dartmouth (2005), "2004 Global Register of Major Flood Events", Dartmouth [June 7, 2006]].</ref>

[edit] 2000–2001: Reelection

Further information: Venezuelan presidential election, 2000
Hugo Chávez's Election Results
2000 presidential election
Source: CNE data
Candidate Votes %
Hugo Chávez: 3,757,773 60%
Francisco Arias: 2,359,459 38%
Valid votes: 6,288,578
Non-voting: 5,120,464 44%
— 2000 labor union reform referendum —
State-monitored labor union elections?
Source:CNE data
Candidate Votes %
Yes: 1,632,750 62%
No: 719,771 27%
Non-voting: 8,569,691 76%

Elections for the new unicameral National Assembly were held on July 30, 2000. During this same election, Chávez himself stood for reelection. Chávez's coalition garnered a commanding two-thirds majority of seats in the National Assembly while Chávez was reelected with 60% of the votes. The Carter Center monitored the 2000 presidential election; their report on that election stated that, due to lack of transparency, CNE partiality, and political pressure from the Chávez government that resulted in unconstitutionally early elections, it was unable to validate the official CNE results.<ref>McCoy and Neuman (2001), pp. 71-72.</ref> However, they concluded that the presidential election legitimately expressed the will of the people.<ref>McCoy and Neuman (2001), p. 10.</ref>

Later, on December 3, 2000, local elections and a referendum were held. The referendum, backed by Chávez, proposed a law that would force Venezuela's labor unions to hold state-monitored elections. The referendum was widely condemned by international labor organisations—including the International Labour Organization—as undue government interference in internal union matters; these organisations threatened to apply sanctions on Venezuela.<ref>McCoy and Neuman (2001), p. 73.</ref>

After the May and July 2000 elections, Chávez backed the passage of the "Enabling Act" by the National Assembly. This act allowed Chávez to rule by decree for one year. In November 2001, shortly before the Enabling Act was set to expire, Chávez enacted a set of 49 decrees. These included the Hydrocarbons Law and the Land Law, which are detailed below. Fedecámaras, a national business federation, and the Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela, a federation of labor unions, opposed the approval of the new laws and called for a general business strike on December 10, 2001[2] in the hope that the President would reconsider his legislative action and, instead, open a debate about those laws[3]. The strike failed to significantly impact Chávez's decision or policies[4].

By the end of the first three years of his presidency, Chávez had successfully initiated a land transfer program and had introduced several reforms aimed at improving the social welfare of the population. These reforms entailed the lowering of infant mortality rates; the implementation of a free, government-funded healthcare system; and free education up to the university level. By December of 2001, following Chávez's imposition of capital controls, inflation fell to 13.4% the lowest in 14 years,<ref>Banco Central de Venezuela.(BCV 2 Jan 2001) La más baja desde hace 14 años INFLACION DE 2000 FUE DE 13,4%. Retrieved 16 July 2006 (Spanish)</ref> while economic growth was steady at four percent.<ref name=fpif /> Chávez's administration also reported an increase in primary school enrollment by one million students.<ref name=fpif />

[edit] 2002: Coup and strike/lockout

Further information: Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002

On April 9, 2002, CTV leader Carlos Ortega called for a two-day general strike. Hundreds of thousands <ref>U.S. Department of State. Venezuela: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002. Accessed 1 October 2006.
Guardian Unlimted : Chavez rises from very peculiar coup April 15, 2002 : Accessed 1 October 2006
BBC. En imágenes: el "día negro" de Chávez. BBC (12 April 2002). Retrieved 30 September 2006. (Spanish)</ref> took to the streets on April 11, 2002 and marched towards the headquarters of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), in defense of its recently-fired management. The organisers decided to redirect the march to Miraflores, the presidential palace, where a pro-Chávez demonstration was taking place. Gunfire and violence erupted between two groups of demonstrators, Caracas' Metropolitan Police (under the control of the oppositionist mayor), and the Venezuelan national guard (under Chávez's command), and snipers were reported from the areas where both opposition and Chávez supporters were concentrated. Domestic and international observers criticised the Government for excessive abuse of its right to call national broadcasts requiring all broadcast media to cease scheduled programming and transmit the broadcasts in their entirety. Between April 9 and 11, the government required all radio and TV stations to transmit numerous speeches by President Chávez, other government officials, and other programming favorable to the Government, even shutting the signals of the stations who refused, in an attempt to block coverage of the demonstrations and ensuing violence.<ref name=USStateHRP2002>U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. March 31, 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002 Accessed 4 Aug 2006.</ref>

Then, unexpectedly, Lucas Rincón Romero, commander-in-chief of the Venezuelan armed forces, announced in a broadcast to a nationwide audience that Chávez had tendered his resignation from the presidency. While Chávez was brought to a military base and held there, military leaders appointed the president of the Fedecámaras, Pedro Carmona, as Venezuela's interim president. Carmona's first decree reversed all of the major social and economic policies that comprised Chávez's "Bolivarian Revolution," including loosening Chávez's credit controls and ending his oil price quotas by raising production back to pre-Chávez levels. Carmona also dissolved both the National Assembly and the Venezuelan judiciary, while reverting the nation's name back to República de Venezuela.

Carmona's decrees were followed by pro-Chávez uprisings and looting across Caracas. Responding to these disturbances, Venezuelan soldiers loyal to Chávez called for massive popular support for a counter-coup. These soldiers later stormed and retook the presidential palace, and retrieved Chávez from captivity. The shortest-lived government in Venezuelan history was thus toppled, and Chávez resumed his presidency on the night of Saturday, April 13, 2002. Following this episode, Rincón was reappointed by Chávez as Commander of the Army, and later as Interior Minister in 2003<ref name=RinconColaRaid>CNN. (CNN, 19 Jan 2003). "Venezuelan president names two generals to key posts: Chavez vows more raids on industries that support strike." Accessed 19 June 2006.</ref> The opposition would later argue that, since Lucas Rincón remained close to the President, there was no coup but a power vacuum once Chávez resigned, despite the succession order being broken.

Image:Hugo Chavez in Brazil-1861.jpeg
Chávez waves to supporters after disembarking at Salgado Filho Airport on January 26, 2003 while on route to the World Social Forum convened in Porto Alegre, Brazil (Agência Brasil).

After Chávez resumed his presidency in April 2002, he claimed that a plane with U.S. registration numbers had visited and been berthed at Venezuela's Orchila Island airbase, where Chávez had been held captive. On May 14, 2002, Chávez alleged that he had definitive proof of U.S. military involvement in April's coup. He claimed that during the coup Venezuelan radar images had indicated the presence of U.S. military naval vessels and aircraft in Venezuelan waters and airspace. The Guardian published a claim by former US intelligence officer Wayne Madsen alleging U.S. Navy involvement.<ref>Campbell, Duncan. (The Guardian, 29 April 2006). American navy 'helped Venezuelan coup'. Retrieved 21 Jun 2006]</ref> U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, D-CT, requested an investigation of concerns that Washington appeared to condone the removal of Mr Chávez,<ref>BBC News, (14 May 2002). US investigates Venezuela coup role. Retrieved 21 Jun 2006.</ref><ref>AP (2002), Venezuela's Chavez Says United States Must Explain Reaction To Coup. Retrieved June 9, 2006.</ref> which subsequently found that "U.S. officials acted appropriately and did nothing to encourage an April coup against Venezuela's president", nor did they provide any naval logistical support.<ref name=USEmbCoup> U.S. Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela. State Dept. Issues Report on U.S. Actions During Venezuelan Coup: (Inspector General finds U.S. officials acted properly during coup). Accessed 26 May 2006.</ref><ref name=USStateCoup>U.S. Department of State and Office of Inspector General. A Review of U.S. Policy toward Venezuela, November 2001 - April 2002. Accessed 26 May 2006.</ref> According to Democracy Now!, CIA documents indicate that the Bush administration knew about a plot weeks before the April 2002 military coup. They cite a document dated 6 April 2002, which says: "dissident military factions...are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chávez, possibly as early as this month." According to William Brownfield, ambassador to Venezuela, the U.S. embassy in Venezuela warned Chávez about a coup plot in April 2002.<ref name=Crosshairs>Márquez Humberto. (IPS March 9 2006) "Statements Indicate Chávez May Indeed Be in Somebody's Crosshairs". Accessed 21 Jun 2006.</ref> Further, the United States Department of State and the investigation by the Office of the Inspector General found no evidence that "U.S. assistance programs in Venezuela, including those funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), were inconsistent with U.S. law or policy" or ". . . directly contributed, or was intended to contribute, to [the coup d'état]."<ref name=CIACoupInfo>CIA Documents Show Bush Knew of 2002 Coup in Venezuela. Democracy Now Monday, November 29th, 2004 Accessed 15 August 2006.</ref><ref name=USEmbCoup/>

Chávez also claimed, during the coup's immediate aftermath, that the U.S. was still seeking his overthrow. On October 6, 2002, he stated that he had foiled a new coup plot, and on October 20, 2002, he stated that he had barely escaped an assassination attempt while returning from a trip to Europe. During that period, the US Ambassador to Venezuela warned the Chávez administration of two potential assassination plots.<ref name=Crosshairs>Márquez Humberto. (IPS March 9 2006) Statements Indicate Chávez May Indeed Be in Somebody's Crosshairs. Retrieved 21 Jun 2006]</ref>

Following his return to office, Chávez quickly took steps to secure support for his government. First, Chávez fired sixty generals and completely replaced the upper echelons of Venezuela's armed forces, substituting them with personnel that could be described as either more complacent, or more loyal to the state, depending on one's political affiliation. Chávez also sought to strengthen support among rank and file soldiers. He boosted support programs, employment, and benefits for veterans, while promulgating new civilian-military development initiatives.

However, only a few months would pass after the April 2002 coup before the Chávez presidency would enter another crisis. Chávez, outraged by the coup and seeking more funds for his social programs, moved in late 2002 to implement total control over the PDVSA and its revenues. As a result, for two months following December 2, 2002, Chávez faced a strike organized by the resistant PDVSA management who sought to force Chávez out of office by completely removing his access to the all-important government oil revenue. The strike, led by a coalition of labor unions, industrial magnates, and oil workers, sought to halt the activities of the PDVSA. As a result, Venezuela ceased exporting its former daily average of 2,800,000 barrels (450,000 m³) of oil and oil derivatives. Hydrocarbon shortages soon erupted throughout Venezuela, with long lines forming at petrol-filling stations. Gasoline imports were soon required. Alarmed, Chávez responded by firing PDVSA's anti-Chávez upper-echelon management and dismissing 18,000 skilled PDVSA employees. Chávez justified this by alleging their complicity in gross mismanagement and corruption in their handling of oil revenues, while opposition supporters of the fired workers stated that his actions were politically-motivated.

[edit] 2003–2004: Recall vote

Chávez acknowledges a cheering crowd from the high balcony of the Piratini Palace, seat of the government of Rio Grande Do Sul in Brazil, on January 26, 2003 (Agência Brasil).
Further information: Venezuelan recall referendum of 2004

In 2003 and 2004 Chávez launched a number of social and economic campaigns as he struggled to maintain popular support. In July 2003 he launched "Mission Robinson," billed as a campaign aimed at providing free reading, writing and arithmetic lessons to the more than 1.5 million Venezuelan adults who were illiterate prior to his 1999 election. On October 12, 2003, Chávez initiated "Mission Guaicaipuro," a program billed as protecting the livelihood, religion, land, culture, and rights of Venezuela's indigenous peoples. In late 2003, the Venezuelan president launched "Mission Sucre," with the stated intent of providing free higher education to the two million adult Venezuelans who had not completed their elementary-level education. In November 2003, Chávez announced "Mission Ribas," with the promise of providing remedial education and diplomas for Venezuela's five million high school dropouts. On the first anniversary of Mission Robinson's establishment, Chávez stated in Caracas's Teresa Carreño theater to an audience of 50,000 formerly illiterate Venezuelans, "in a year, we have graduated 1,250,000 Venezuelans." Nevertheless, there were also significant setbacks. Notably, the inflation rate rocketed to 31% in 2002 and remained at the high level of 27% in 2003, causing a great deal of hardship for the poor.

In May 9, 2004, a group of 126 Colombians were captured during a raid of two farms near Caracas. The Colombians were outfit in Venezuelan military uniforms and testified that, once they arrived in Venezuela after receiving promises of legal employment, they were then hired for military action against Venezuelan regulars. The farm was owned by a Cuban anti-Fidel Castro exile and a leader in the unsuccessful 2002 coup. Chávez soon levelled accusations of the attempted formation of a foreign-funded paramilitary force who intended to violently overthrow his rule.<ref name="BBC_2004coup">BBC News. (BBC, 25 June 2004). "Colombian 'plotters' face charges". Retrieved 13 June 2006.</ref> These events merely served to further the extreme and violent polarisation of Venezuelan society between pro- and anti-Chávez camps. Chávez's allegations of a putative 2004 coup attempt continue to stir controversy and doubts to this day.<ref name="BBC_2004coup"/> In October 2005, 27 of the accused Colombians were found guilty, while the rest were released and deported.<ref>El Pais. (El Pais, 2004). "Condenan a tres militares y 27 colombianos". Retrieved 24 July 2006. (Spanish)</ref>

Hugo Chávez's Election Results
2004 recall referendum
Recall Hugo Chávez?
Source: CNE data
Candidate Votes %
No: 5,800,629 59%
Yes: 3,989,008 41%
Non-voting: 4,222,269 30%

In early and mid-2003, Súmate, an opposition-aligned volunteer civilian voter rights organization, began the process of collecting the millions of signatures needed to activate the presidential recall provision provided for in Chávez's 1999 Constitution. In August 2003, around 3.2 million signatures were presented, but these were rejected by the pro-Chávez majority in the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE; "National Electoral Council") on the grounds that many had been collected before the mid-point of Chávez's presidential term.<ref>BBC News. (BBC News, 12 Sep 2003). "Chavez poll petition rejected". Retrieved 10 Nov 2005.</ref> Reports then began to emerge among opposition and international news outlets that Chávez had begun to act punitively against those who had signed the petition, while pro-Chávez individuals stated that they had been coerced by employers into offering their signatures at their workplaces. In November 2003, the opposition collected an entirely new set of signatures, with 3.6 million names produced over a span of four days. Riots erupted nationwide as allegations of fraud were made by Chávez against the signature collectors.

The provision in the Constitution allowing for a presidential recall requires the signatures of 20% of the electorate in order to effect a recall. Further, the cédulas (national identity card numbers) and identities of petition signers are not secret, and in fact were made public by Luis Tascón, a member of the Venezuelan National Assembly representing Chávez' party (Fifth Republic Movement - MVR) and the Communist Party of Venezuela of Táchira state. The government was accused of increasing the voter rolls by giving citizenship to illegal immigrants and refugees, and the opposition claimed that it was a citizenship for votes program. Voter registration increased by about 2 million people ahead of the referendum, which in effect raised the threshold of the 20% of the electorate needed to effect a recall.<ref name=PostVoterRolls>Bronstein, H. (June 14, 2006), "Colombians in Venezuela thank Chavez for new life", Washington Post, Accessed 22 June 2006.</ref>

Credible anecdotal evidence emerged that Chávez and his allies were penalising signers of the publicly posted petition by denying them government jobs and services.<ref name=FAInSearch>Shifter, Michael. "In Search of Hugo Chávez". Foreign Affairs, May/June 2006. 85:3, p. 48. "There is also credible anecdotal evidence of the existence of lists of individuals' votes that have been used to deny Chávez's opponents jobs and services."</ref> Charges were made of summary dismissals from government ministries, PDVSA, the state-owned water corporation, the Caracas Metro, and public hospitals controlled by Chávez's political allies. Finally, after opposition leaders submitted to the CNE a valid petition with 2,436,830 signatures that requested a presidential recall referendum, a recall referendum was announced on June 8, 2004 by the CNE. Chávez and his political allies responded to this by mobilising supporters to encourage rejection of the recall with a "no" vote.

The recall vote itself was held on August 15, 2004. A record number of voters turned out to defeat the recall attempt with a 59% "no" vote.<ref>BBC News. (BBC, 21 Sep 2004). "Venezuelan Audit Confirms Victory". Retrieved 05 Nov 2005.</ref><ref>Carter Center (Sep 2004). Report on an Analysis of the Representativeness of the Second Audit Sample, and the Correlation between Petition Signers and the Yes Vote in the August 15, 2004 Presidential Recall Referendum in Venezuela, p. 7.</ref> The election was overseen by the Carter Center and the Organization of American States, and was certified by them as fair and open.<ref>Carter Center (Feb 2005). Observing the Venezuela Presidential Recall Referendum: Comprehensive Report, pp. 133-134.</ref> European Union observers did not attend, saying too many restrictions had been placed on their participation by the government.<ref>de Cordoba, Jose and Luhnow, David. "Venezuelans Rush to Vote on Chavez: Polarised Nation Decides Whether to Recall President After Years of Political Rifts". Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, NY: Aug 16, 2004. pg. A11. "European observers stayed away because they said the government was imposing too many restrictions."</ref>

Other critics, including economists Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard and Roberto Rigobon of MIT, called the results fraudulent, alleging a "very clear trails of fraud in the statistical record" and alleged electronic voting machines had been reconfigured to allow results to be altered remotely.<ref>"Conned in Caracas". Wall Street Journal. New York, NY: September 9, 2004</ref> In response, the Carter Center consulted with Professor Jonathan Taylor, an independent statistician from Stanford University and Professor Aviel Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer scientist who both initially concluded that the actual results are within the predicted range and do not of themselves prove fraud.<ref>Carter Center 3 Sep 2004 The Carter Center Statement About Statistical Assessment of the Venezuela Referendum Results Retrieved 28 Sep 2006</ref> Subsequently, however, the Carter Center admitted Taylor had "found a mistake in one of the models of his analysis which lowered the predicted number of tied machines, but which still found the actual result to lie within statistical possibility"<ref>Carter Center 3 Sep 2004 The Carter Center Statement About Statistical Assessment of the Venezuela Referendum Results Retrieved 28 Sep 2006</ref>

The opposition also cited an exit poll which implied the actual results were the opposite of those reported. "Massive fraud" was alleged and the conclusions of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter were questioned.<ref name=Barone>Barone, M. "Exit polls in Venezuela". U.S. News & World Report. August 20, 2004.</ref> It should be noted that five other opposition polls showed a Chávez victory.<ref> AP (2004). "U.S. Poll Firm in Hot Water in Venezuela", Associated Press. Accessed June 9, 2006.</ref>

After his victory, a jubilant Chávez pledged to redouble his efforts against both poverty and "imperialism," while promising to foster dialogue with his opponents. Chávez's government subsequently charged the founders of Súmate with treason and conspiracy for receiving foreign funds, earmarked for voter education, from the United States Department of State through the National Endowment for Democracy, triggering commentary from human rights organizations and the U.S. government.<ref>Human Rights Watch.Venezuela: Court Orders Trial of Civil Society Leaders. Accessed 8 June 2006.</ref><ref>World Movement for Democracy. Democracy Activists in Venezuela Threatened. (July 16, 2004) Accessed 8 June 2006.</ref><ref>Embassy of the United States, Venezuela (July 8, 2005). "Súmate Trial Decision". Accessed 18 June 2006.</ref> The trial has been postponed several times. A program called "Mission Identity", to fast track voter registration of immigrants to Venezuela — including Chávez supporters benefiting from his subsidies — has been put in place prior to the upcoming 2006 presidential elections.<ref name=PostVoterRolls>Bronstein, H. (June 14, 2006), "Colombians in Venezuela thank Chavez for new life", Washington Post, Accessed 22 June 2006.</ref>

[edit] 2004–2005: Focus on foreign relations

Image:Néstor Kirchner y Hugo Chávez-Venezuela-Julio 2004.jpg
Chávez embraces Argentinian President Néstor Kirchner during the closing of a July 2004 joint press conference held in Venezuela (Office of the Argentine Presidency).

In the aftermath of his referendum victory, Chávez's primary objectives of fundamental social and economic transformation and redistribution accelerated dramatically. Chávez himself placed the development and implementation of the "Bolivarian Missions" once again at the forefront of his political agenda. Sharp increases in global oil prices gave Chávez access to billions of dollars in extra foreign exchange reserves. Economic growth picked up markedly, reaching double-digit growth in 2004 and a 9.3% growth rate for 2005.

Many new policy initiatives were advanced by Chávez after 2004. In late March 2005, the Chávez government passed a series of media regulations that criminalised broadcasted libel and slander directed against public officials; prison sentences of up to 40 months for serious instances of character defamation launched against Chávez and other officials were enacted. When asked if he would ever actually move to use the 40-month sentence if a media figure insulted him, Chávez remarked that "I don't care if they [the private media] call me names.... As Don Quixote said, 'If the dogs are barking, it is because we are working.'"<ref>BBC Talking Point. (23 Oct 2005). "BBC's Robin Lustig interview to Hugo Chavez". Retrieved 21 Jun 2006.</ref> Chávez also worked to expand his land redistribution and social welfare programs by authorizing and funding a multitude of new "Bolivarian Missions," including "Mission Vuelta al Campo"; the second and third phases of "Mission Barrio Adentro," both first initiated in June 2005 with the stated aim of constructing, funding, and refurbishing secondary (integrated diagnostic center) and tertiary (hospital) public health care facilities nationwide; and "Mission Miranda, which established a national citizen's militia. Meanwhile, Venezuela's doctors went on strike, protesting the siphoning of public funds from their existing institutions to these new Bolivarian ones, run by Cuban doctors.

Chávez focused considerably on Venezuela's foreign relations in 2004 and 2005 via new bilateral and multilateral agreements, including humanitarian aid and construction projects. Chávez has engaged, with varying degrees of success, numerous other foreign leaders, including Argentina's Néstor Kirchner, China's Hu Jintao, Cuba's Fidel Castro and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On March 4, 2005, Chávez publicly declared that the U.S.-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was "dead." Chávez stated that the neoliberal model of development had utterly failed in improving the lives of Latin Americans, and that an alternative, anti-capitalist model would be conceived in order to increase trade and relations between Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. Chávez also stated his desire that a leftist, Latin American analogue of NATO be established.

Over the course of 2004 and 2005, the Venezuelan military under Chávez also began in earnest to reduce weaponry sourcing and military ties with the United States. Chávez's Venezuela is thus increasingly purchasing arms from alternative sources, such as Brazil, Russia, China and Spain. Friction over these sales escalated, and in response Chávez ended cooperation between the militaries of the two countries. He also asked all active-duty U.S. soldiers to leave Venezuela. Additionally, in 2005 Chávez announced the creation of a large "military reserve"—the Mission Miranda program, which encompasses a militia of 1.5 million citizens—as a defensive measure against foreign intervention or outright invasion.<ref>Wagner, Sarah. (Venezuela Analysis, 25 Apr 2005). "U.S.-Venezuela Military Cooperation Indefinitely Suspended". Retrieved 20 Oct 2005.</ref> Additionally, in October 2005, Chávez banished the Christian missionary organization "New Tribes Mission" from the country, accusing it of "imperialist infiltration" and harboring connections with the CIA.<ref name=NewTribes>Alford, Deann. (Christianity Today, 14 Oct 2005). "Venezuela to Expel New Tribes Mission". Retrieved 09 Nov 2005.</ref> At the same time, he granted inalienable titles to over 6,800 square kilometers of land traditionally inhabited by Amazonian indigenous peoples to their respective resident natives, though this land could not be bought or sold as Western-style title deeds can. Chávez cited these changes as evidence that his revolution was also a revolution for the defense of indigenous rights, such as those promoted by Chávez's Mission Guaicaipuro.

During this period, Chávez placed much greater emphasis on alternative economic development and international trade models, much of it in the form of extremely ambitious hemisphere-wide international aid agreements. For example, on August 20, 2005, during the first graduation of international scholarship students from Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine, Chávez announced that he would jointly establish with Cuba a second such medical school that would provide tuition-free medical training—an ex gratia project valued at between $20 and 30 billion—to more than 100,000 physicians who would pledge to work in the poorest communities of the Global South. He announced that the project would run for the next decade, and that the new school would include at least 30,000 new places for poor students from both Latin America and the Caribbean.<ref>Reed, Gail A. (MEDICC Review). "Where There Were No Doctors: First MDs Graduate from Latin American Medical School". Retrieved 16 Nov 2005.</ref>

Chávez has also taken ample opportunity on the international stage to juxtapose such projects with the manifest results and workings of neoliberal globalization. Most notably, during his speech at the 2005 UN World Summit, he denounced development models that are organised around neoliberal guidelines such as liberalisation of capital flows, removal of trade barriers, and privatisation as the reason for the developing world's impoverishment. Chávez also went on to warn of an imminent global energy famine brought about by hydrocarbon depletion (based on Hubbert peak theory), stating that "we are facing an unprecedented energy crisis.... Oil is starting to become exhausted."<ref>Campbell, Colin J. (Association of the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, Nov 2005). "Newsletter No. 59: President Chavez Recognises Peak Oil". Retrieved 16 Nov 2005.</ref> Additionally, on November 7, 2005, Chávez referenced the stalling of the FTAA, stating at the Fourth Summit of the Americas, held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, that "the great loser today was George W. Bush. The man went away wounded. You could see defeat on his face." Chávez took the same opportunity to state that "the taste of victory" was apparent with regards to the promotion of his own trade alternative, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA—Alternativa Bolivariana para América), which Venezuela and Cuba inaugurated on December 14, 2004.<ref>Parma, Alessandro. (Venezuela Analysis, 07 Nov 2005). "Chavez Claims Victory Over Bush in Argentina Summit". Retrieved 09 Nov 2005.</ref>

In 2005, Chávez demanded the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, accused of conspiring to bomb Cubana Flight 455. A Texas judge blocked the extradition on the grounds that he could be tortured in Venezuela; the Venezuelan embassy blamed the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to contest such accusations during the trial.<ref>Jim, Lobe.(Inter Press Service 28 Sep 2006). Cuban Terror Case Erodes US Credibility, Critics SayRetrieved 9,July 2006</ref> Chávez also requested the extradition of former Venezuelan officers and members of Militares democraticos, Lt. German Rodolfo Varela and Lt. Jose Antonio Colina, who are wanted for bombing the Spanish and Colombian embassies after Chávez made a speech criticizing both governments.<ref>Forero, Juan. (New York Times 29, Jan 2004)Venezuelans Asking the U.S. To Extradite 2. Retrieved 9 July 2006</ref><ref>Toothaker, Christopher. (Latin American Post)Chavez dismisses US concerns on democracy. Retrieved 9, July 2006</ref>

[edit] 2006–present

Main article: Venezuelan presidential election, 2006

The BBC says that Chavez "has made no secret of the fact that he is in favour of amending the constitution so that he can run again for president in 2012."<ref>Morsbach, Greg. Chavez opponents face tough times. BBC News (6 December 2005).</ref> He is currently seeking re-election and his approval ratings as of August stood at 55%.<ref>Hooper, Simon (CNN 18 Oct 2006) The insider's guide to Hugo Chavez. Retrieved 20 Oct 2006</ref>

In 2006 Chávez announced Venezuela's bid to win a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council; Washington officials encouraged Latin American and Caribbean nations to vote instead for Guatemala.<ref> Washington Post. (29 June 2006)."Venezuela Seeks Security Council Seat".Retrieved 1 Aug 2006.</ref> Analysts quoted by Forbes Magazine said that Chávez would offer to supply 20% of China's crude oil needs if Beijing backed Venezuela's bid to join the UN Security Council.<ref> FOCUS - Venezuela's Chavez to use oil as card to lure China's backing at UN. Forbes (20 August 2006).</ref> In Chile, the press was concerned that Venezuelan grants for flood aid might affect the government's decision about which country to support for admission to the UN Security Council.<ref>Chávez' grant to Chile is troublesome for Michelle Bachelet. El Universal (11 August 2006).</ref> However, Venezuela was never able to obtain more votes than Guatemala in the forty one separate UN votes in October of 2006 <ref>[5] BBC (27 October 2006)</ref>. Because of this deadlock in voting, Panama was selected as a consensus candidate and subsequently won the election for Latin America's seat on the Security Council.

In accordance with his foreign policy trends, Chávez has visited several countries in Latin America, as well as Portugal, Belarus, Russia, Qatar, Syria, Iran, Vietnam, Mali and Benin. At the request of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, Chávez also attended the 2006 summit of the African Union in Banjul. He also visited the People's Republic of China and Malaysia.

Moreover, Chávez accused the government of the United States of attempting to turn Colombia into Venezuela's adversary over the recent arms dispute. “The U.S. empire doesn't lose a chance to attack us and try to create discord between us,” Chávez said. “That's one of the empire's strategies: Try to keep us divided.”<ref>The Associated Press. "“Venezuela's Chavez thanks Colombia for not siding with Washington in arms purchases dispute”", International Herald Tribune, October 5, 2006. Retrieved on October 6, 2006.</ref>

according to recent reports his oponent is far behind hugo that shows out of the total 78% resuults published shavez secured 62% that he will be in power for next session

[edit] Subsidising heating fuel for the poor in the U.S.

In 2005, President Chávez initiated a program to provide cheaper heating fuel for poor people in several areas of the United States (New York Daily News, September 21, 2006). The program was expanded in September 2006 to include four of New York City's five boroughs, earmarking 25 million gallons of fuel for low-income New York residents this year at 40% off the wholesale market price. That quantity provides sufficient fuel to heat 70,000 apartments, covering 200,000 New Yorkers, for the entire winter (New York Daily News, September 21, 2006). It has also been reported that Chavez is sending heating oil to poor, remote villages in Alaska. Some have questioned the motives of this generosity. Legislative leaders in Maine have asked that state's governor to refuse the subsidised oil,<ref>Adams, Glenn. Maine Repubs Say No to Chavez Oil Deal. Houston Chronicle (21 September 2006).</ref> and New York Daily News criticized his offer by calling him an "oil pimp."<ref>Venezuela oil pimp can have UN. New York Daily News (21 September 2006).</ref>

[edit] Impact of Presidency

[edit] Domestic policy

Missions of the Bolivarian Revolution
— food — housing — medicine —
Barrio Adentro  · Plan Bolivar 2000
Hábitat  · Mercal
— education —
Ribas  · Sucre
Robinson I  · Robinson II
— indigenous rights — land — environment —
Guaicaipuro  · Identidad
Miranda  · Piar
Vuelta al Campo  · Vuelvan Caras
— (Hugo Chávez) — (Venezuela) —
See also: Bolivarian Missions

Chávez's domestic policy relies heavily on the "Bolivarian Missions," a series of political campaigns aimed at radically altering the economic and cultural landscape of Venezuela.

The "Bolivarian Missions" have entailed the launching of government anti-poverty initiatives,<ref>Niemeyer, p. 36. "The World Bank asserted on 7th October 2003 that Latin America's biggest issue is the fight against poverty. The Bolivarian Revolution seems to be the only process worldwide which is taking this problem seriously and is effectively tackling poverty with government programs. The financing of these programs by spending a good portion of the Nation's GDP (0.2% in August 2003 alone) ... "</ref><ref>UNICEF. (UNICEF, 2005). "Venezuela’s Barrio Adentro: A Model of Universal Primary Health Care". Retrieved 15 Oct 2005. UNICEF, p. 2. "Barrio Adentro ... is part and parcel of the government's longterm poverty-reduction and social inclusion strategy to achieve and surpass the Millennium Development Goals."</ref> the construction of thousands of free medical clinics for the poor,<ref>Kuiper, Jeroen. (Venezuela Analysis, 28 Jul 2005). Barrio Adentro II: Victim of its Own Success. Retrieved 18 October 2005. "After spreading primary health care through the Mision Barrio Adentro all over Venezuela in just two years, by constructing thousands of consultorios (doctor's offices) ... "</ref> the institution of educational campaigns that have reportedly made more than one million adult Venezuelans literate,<ref>Niemeyer, pp. 14-15. "With high levels of illiteracy to be found amongst the population the alphabetisation campaign called 'Mission Robinson' was brought into action. It has already taught more than a million people how to read and write and gained widespread support. Older people participate while youngsters enjoy access to University through a program guaranteeing equal access to Universities. This program is referred to as 'Mission Sucre'."</ref><ref>Burbach, Roger. (CounterPunch, 7 Nov 2005). "Bush Versus Chavez". Retrieved 08 Nov 2005.</ref> and the enactment of food<ref>Niemeyer, p. 15. "Probably the most important achievement can be seen in the state run supermarkets, referred to as 'Mercal' which provide the basic necessities at affordable prices which are in many cases more than 30 percent cheaper than in regular shops."</ref> and housing subsidies.<ref>Venezuela Analysis, "Chavez Disappointed with His Government’s Public Housing Achievements". " ... government is investing $2.8 billion in the housing program ... According to a report that Julio Montes, the Minister of Housing and Habitat, presented, only 43,000 homes had been constructed so far this year, while the government’s goal is to construct at least 120,000."</ref> There have been marked improvements in the infant mortality rate between 1998 and 2006.<ref>Central Intelligence Agency. (CIA, 1998). The World Factbook 1998: Venezuela. Retrieved 18 Oct 2005.</ref><ref name=CIA2005>Central Intelligence Agency. (CIA, 2005). The World Factbook 2006: Venezuela. Retrieved 22 July 2006.</ref> The government earmarked 44.6% of the 2007 budget for social investment, with 1999-2007 averaging 12.8% of GDP.<ref name=Merentez>Perdomo,Eucaris (Panorama 24 Oct 2006). Economía venezolana ha crecido un 12,5% en últimos 12 trimestres(Spanish) Retrieved 24 Oct 2006</ref>

The Missions have overseen widespread experimentation in what Chávez supporters term citizen- and worker-managed governance,<ref>Albert, Michael ( Z Communications, 06 Nov 2005). "Venezuela's Path". Retrieved 12 Nov 2005.</ref><ref>Ellsworth, Brian. (New York Times, 3 Aug 2005). "Venezuela tries the worker-managed route". Retrieved 12 Nov 2005.</ref> as well as the granting of thousands of free land titles, reportedly to formerly landless poor and indigenous communities.<ref>Wilpert, Gregory. (Venezuela Analysis, 12 Sep 2005). Venezuela’s Quiet Housing Revolution: Urban Land Reform. Retrieved 18 Oct 2005. " ... the celebration of the handing out of over 10,000 land titles to families living in Venezuela's poorest urban neighborhoods ... As of mid 2005, the National Technical Office has issued over 84,000 titles to 126,000 families, benefiting about 630,000 barrio inhabitants."</ref> Several allegedly unused estates and factories have been expropriated to provide this land.

On March 2006 the Communal Council Law was approved, whereby communities that decide to organize themselves into a council can be given official state recognition and access to federal funds and loans for community projects. This skips the local and state governments that are perceived as corrupt.<ref>Conexion social. (Conexion social, 2006). Law Of Communal Councils. Retrieved June 9, 2006.</ref>

[edit] Labor policy

Chávez has had a combative relationship with the nation's largest trade union confederation, the Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV), which is historically aligned with the Acción Democrática (AD) party. During the December 2000 local elections, Chávez placed a referendum measure on the ballot that would mandate state-monitored elections within unions. The measure, which was condemned by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) as undue interference in internal union matters, passed by a large margin on a very low electoral turnout. In the ensuing CTV elections, Carlos Ortega declared his victory and remained in office as CTV president, while chavista (pro-Chávez) candidates declared fraud.

The Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT—"National Union of Workers"), a new pro-Chávez union federation, formed in response and has been growing in membership; it seeks to ultimately supplant the CTV. Several chavista unions have withdrawn from the CTV because of their strident anti-Chávez activism, and have instead affiliated with the UNT. In 2003, Chávez chose to send UNT, rather than CTV, representatives to an annual ILO meeting.

Further augmenting state involvement in Venezuela's economy, Chávez nationalized Venepal, a formerly closed paper and cardboard manufacturing firm, on January 19, 2005. Workers had occupied the factory floor and restarted production, but following a failed deal with management and amidst management threats to liquidate the firm's equipment, Chávez ordered the nationalization, extended a line of credit to the workers, and ordered that the Venezuelan educational missions purchase more paper products from the company.

Under Chávez, Venezuela has also instituted worker-run "co-management" initiatives, in which worker councils are the cornerstone of the management of a plant or factory. In co-management experiments such as at the Alcasa factory, both workers and strategists take part in management discussions and decisions, amid reams of statistics, charts sketched on white boards, and scale models. One representative is elected from each department or sector to work with the company executives.<ref>Bruce, Iain. Chavez calls for democracy at work. BBC News. (17 August 2005). Accessed 22 September 2006.</ref>

[edit] Economic policy

Image:Venezuela Economic Indicators.png
* Sources: WDI/World Bank. GDP and GDP per capita is in year 2000 VEB, adjusted for inflation. Unemployment data for 2005 is the CIA World Factbook estimate. 1 trillion = 1,000,000,000,000. The vertical scales do not always start at 0 to make more details visible. Oil production figures from IEA in millions of barrels per day.

Venezuela is a major producer of oil products, which remain the keystone of the Venezuelan economy. Chávez has gained a reputation as a price hawk in OPEC, pushing for stringent enforcement of production quotas and higher target oil prices. At a June 2006 meeting, Venezuela was the only OPEC country calling for lowered production to drive oil prices higher. Industry analysts say Venezuela wants lower quotas because, under Chávez's administration, the output of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), Venezuela's state-owned oil company, has been reduced by 25% and Venezuela cannot meet its current quota.<ref name=EconForPol>The Economist, (June 8, 2006), "Venezuela's foreign policy: Bruised but unbowed," The Economist, Accessed 20 June 2006.</ref> However, Forbes argues that some oil production numbers are politically motivated, intended to discredit the Venezuelan industry.<ref>Oxford Analytica. (Forbes 16 Jun 2006). Venezuela's Oil Policy Has Risk Premium Retrieved 27 Jun 2006</ref> Nonetheless, Chávez has attempted to broaden Venezuela's customer base, striking joint exploration deals with other developing countries, including Argentina, Brazil, China and India. Record oil prices have meant more funding for social programs, but have left the economy increasingly dependent on both the Chávez government and the oil sector; the private sector's role has correspondingly diminished.

Chávez has redirected the focus of PDVSA by bringing it more closely under the direction of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. He has also attempted to repatriate more oil funds to Venezuela by raising royalty percentages on joint extraction contracts that are payable to Venezuela. Chávez has also explored the liquidation of some or all of the assets belonging to PDVSA's U.S.-based subsidiary, Citgo. The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has been successful in restructuring Citgo's profit structure,<ref>Ramirez, Rafael. (Minister of Energy and Petroleum, 25 May 2005). A National, Popular, and Revolutionary Oil Policy for Venezuela. VenezuelaAnalysis. Retrieved 31 Oct 2005.</ref> resulting in large increases in dividends and income taxes from PDVSA. Even with high oil prices the Venezuelan government for the first time recieved more income from taxation than the oil industry.<ref name=Merentes />

During Chávez's presidency from 1999 to 2004, per-capita GDP dropped 1–2%,<ref name=Econ1>Economist (June 2003). "Country Briefings: Venezuela Factsheet". The Economist. Accessed June 4, 2003.</ref> but with the help of rising oil prices, the end of the oil strike, and strong consumption growth, recent economic activity under Chávez has been robust. GDP growth rates were 18% in 2004,<ref name=EconPov>The Economist (Feb 16, 2006), Venezuela: Mission Impossible, The Economist, Retrieved 22 June 2006.</ref> 9% in 2005,<ref name=BCV2005>Imported goods are cheaper, BCV acknowledges. El Universal (August 9, 2006).</ref> and 9.6% in the first half of 2006, with the private sector growing at a 10.3% clip.<ref name="BCV06Growth">Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV 15 Aug 2006). Actividad económica crece en 9,6% durante el primer semestre de 2006 Retrieved 16 Aug 2006 (Spanish) "Este resultado, unido al aumento de 9,9% observado en el primer trimestre, ubica el crecimiento del primer semestre en 9,6%." "Desde el punto de vista institucional, el sector público creció en 4,6% y el privado en 10,3%." ""La inversión bruta fija continuó su ritmo expansivo, alcanzando niveles superiores a los observados en toda la serie desde el año 1997."</ref> From 2004 to the first half of 2006, non-petroleum sectors of the economy showed growth rates greater than 10%.<ref>El Universal (2006) Movimiento del producto interno bruto. Retrieved 25 Jun 2006</ref> Datos reports real income grew by 137% between 2003 and Q1 2006.<ref>Datos, (2006). Perspectivas Sociales 2006 de VenAmCham p.18. Retrieved 29 Aug 2006. (Spanish)</ref> Official poverty figures dropped by 10%.<ref>Weisbrot, Mark & Sandoval, Luis & Rosnick, David (CEPR May 2006). Poverty Rates in Venezuela: Getting the Numbers Right Retrieved 19 Aug 2006</ref><ref>El Universal Más de dos millones de hogares en Venezuela son pobres Retrieved 23 Sep 2006 (Spanish) "La pobreza se ubicó en 33,9% en el primer semestre del año, lo que representó una disminución de 8,5 puntos porcentuales con respecto a igual período de 2005"</ref> Some economists argue that this subsidized growth could stop if oil prices decline,<ref name=PostVoterRolls>Bronstein, H. (June 14, 2006), "Colombians in Venezuela thank Chavez for new life", Washington Post, Accessed 22 June 2006.</ref> but the government argues its budget uses 29$ a barrel and 60 billion dollars in reserves as a cushion for a sudden drop.<ref>Marx, Gary(Chicago Tribune 13 Nov 2006) Venezuela riding wave of prosperity Retrieved 14 Nov 2006</ref> Some social scientists and economists claim that the government's reported poverty figures have not fallen in proportion to the country's vast oil revenues in the last two years.<ref name=EconPov/> The president of Datos said that, although his surveys showed rising incomes because of subsidies and grants, the number of people in the worst living conditions has grown. "The poor of Venezuela are living much better lately and have increased their purchasing power . . . [but] without being able to improve their housing, education level, and social mobility," he said. "Rather than help [the poor] become stakeholders in the economic system, what [the government has] done is distribute as much oil wealth as possible in missions and social programs."<ref name=Windfall>Lakshmanam, Indira A.R. Critics slam Venezuelan oil windfall spending. Boston Globe (13 August 2006).</ref>

Image:Chavez in Arab SouthAmerica Summit.jpeg
Chávez attends the Arab-South America Summit held on May 5, 2005 in Brasília, Brazil. He is flanked by Qatari Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Lebanese Prime Minister Nagib Mikati (Agência Brasil).

According to government figures, unemployment has dropped by 7.7% since the start of Chávez's presidency.<ref>Instituto Nacional de Estadistica.(INE, Jan 1999) Globales de Fuerza de Trabajo. Retrieved 13 Jun 2006."Tasa de Desocupacion 16.6%" (Spanish)</ref><ref>Instituto Nacional de Estadistica.(INE, April 2006) Globales de Fuerza de Trabajo. Retrieved 18 Nov 2006."Tasa de Desocupacion 8.9%" (Spanish)</ref> Venezuela's rate of unemployment dropped to 10% in February 2006 from the 2003 high of 20%, which occurred during a two-month strike and business lockout that shut down the country's oil industry. However, some economists argue that recent job creation may not be permanent, for it relies on an expanded public payroll that will become unaffordable if oil prices fall.<ref name=EconPov/> According to the Venezuelan government, an unemployed person is a citizen above the age of 15 who has been seeking employment for more than one week.<ref>Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas. Tasa de desocupacion Retrieved 19 Aug 2006 (Spanish) "Personas de 15 años o más, de uno u otro sexo, quienes declararon que durante la semana anterior al día de la entrevista no estaban trabajando y estaban buscando trabajo con remuneración. Asimismo, se incluyen aquellas personas que nunca han trabajado y buscan trabajo por primera vez."</ref> But, according to The Boston Globe, critics say that the government defines "informal workers, such as street vendors, as employed, and exclud[es] adults who are studying in missions from unemployment numbers." Critics also point to figures released by the president of the Venezuelan National Statistics Institute, Elías Eljuri, which showed that poverty had actually risen by more than 10 percentage points under Chávez (to 53% in 2004). Chávez called for a new measure of poverty, a "social well-being index". Under this new definition, poverty registers at 40 percent.<ref name=Windfall/> Eljuri denies changing the statistic and claims it is entirely income excluding social programs.<ref>El Universal (El Universal 15 Oct 2005) La pobreza se redujo en 14,6 puntos en un año Retrieved 19 Aug 2006 (Spanish) "Según explicó Elías Eljuri, las cifras presentadas por el instituto en esta oportunidad miden la pobreza sólo por el nivel de ingreso de los hogares. " "Aclaró que las cifras presentadas no incluyen el efecto que han logrado en el tema la aplicación de los programas sociales del actual gobierno y que esto será presentado en otra oportunidad. "</ref> The World Bank calculated a 10% drop in poverty<ref>Panodi(Venezuela Analysis 03 Jun 2006). World Bank: Venezuela decreased poverty Retrieved 19 Aug 2006</ref>

According to the Banco Central de Venezuela, inflation dropped from 29.9% to 14.4%.<ref>Banco Central de Venezuela. (BCV 12 Dec 2006). INDICE DE PRECIOS AL CONSUMIDOR DEL ÁREA METROPOLITANA DE CARACAS DICIEMBRE 1998. Retrieved 11 Aug 2006 (Spanish) "la variación acumulada del IPC para el año 1998, se ubicó en 29,9%"</ref><ref name=BCV2005/> During 2005, imported goods were cheaper than commodities made in Venezuela; variability in the price of goods was linked to import performance and exchange stability.<ref name=BCV2005/> In the second quarter of 2006 gross fixed investment was the highest ever recorded by the Banco Central de Venezuela since it started tracking the statistic in 1997.<ref name="BCV06Growth"/>

While the Venezuelan Government enjoys a windfall of oil profits, the business environment is risky and discourages investment, according to El Universal. As measured by prices on local stock exchanges, investors are willing to pay on average 16.3 years worth of earnings to invest in Colombia companies, 15.9 in Chile, 11.1 in Mexico, and 10.7 in Brazil, but only 5.8 in Venezuela. The World Economic Forum ranked Venezuela as 82 out of 102 countries on a measure of how favorable investment is for institutions. In Venezuela, an investor needs an average of 119 days and must complete 14 different proceedings to organize a business, while the average in OECD countries is 30 days and six proceedings.<ref>A dual economy. El Universal (17 August 2006).</ref>

Public spending in Venezuela has broken unprecedented records as measured by local currency Central Bank debt, which could increase inflation.<ref>Venezuelan Central Bank debt smashes unprecedented record. El Universal (18 August 2006.)</ref>

[edit] Foreign policy

Image:Kircher Chavez.jpg
Chávez and Argentina President Néstor Kirchner discuss energy and trade integration projects for South America. They met on November 21, 2005 in Venezuela as a gesture of mutual solidarity in their opposition to the Washington Consensus and the FTAA proposal (Office of the Argentine Presidency).

Chávez has refocused Venezuelan foreign policy on Latin American economic and social integration by enacting bilateral trade and reciprocal aid agreements, including his so-called "oil diplomacy".<ref>The Economist. (The Economist, 28 Jul 2005). "Using oil to spread revolution". Retrieved 11 Jun 2005.</ref><ref>Guyana Diary. (Monthly Newsletter of the Guyana Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 2004). "Guyana to Try for Better Oil Rates Under Caracas Accord". Retrieved 14 Jun 2006." Under the Caracas Energy Accord, countries can purchase oil supplies on concessional terms. It complements the terms of the San Jose Agreement, through which Venezuela offers special financial conditions to signatory oil-buying countries."</ref> Chávez stated that Venezuela has "a strong oil card to play on the geopolitical stage . . ." He said, "It is a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world, the United States."<ref>Blum, Justin (Washington Post, 22 Nov 2005). "Chavez Pushes Petro-Diplomacy". Retrieved 29 Nov 2005.</ref> Chávez has focused on a variety of multinational institutions to promote his vision of Latin American integration, including Petrocaribe, Petrosur, and TeleSUR. Bilateral trade relationships with other Latin American countries have also played a major role in his policy, with Chávez increasing arms purchases from Brazil, forming oil-for-expertise trade arrangements with Cuba, and creating unique barter arrangements that exchange Venezuelan petroleum for cash-strapped Argentina's meat and dairy products. Additionally, Chávez worked closely with other Latin American leaders following the 1997 Summit of the Americas in many areas—especially energy integration—and championed the OAS decision to adopt the Anti-Corruption Convention. Chávez also participates in the United Nations Friends groups for Haiti, and is pursuing efforts to join and engage the Mercosur trade bloc to expand the hemisphere's trade integration prospects.

Abroad, Chávez regularly portrays his movement's objectives as being diametrically opposed to "neocolonialism" and "neoliberalism". Chávez has, for example, denounced U.S. foreign policy regarding areas such as Iraq, Haiti, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Chávez's warm and public friendship with Cuban President Fidel Castro has markedly compromised the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba diplomatically and economically.<ref>Macbeth, Hampden. (Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), 22 Jun 2005). "The Not So Odd Couple: Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro". Retrieved 31 Oct 2005.</ref> Long-standing ties between the U.S. and Venezuelan militaries were also severed by Chávez. Moreover, his stance as an OPEC price hawk has made him unpopular in the United States. In 2000, Chávez made a ten-day tour of OPEC countries in a bid to promote his policies, becoming the first head of state to meet Saddam Hussein since the Gulf War.

Chávez's foreign policy conduct and anti-Bush rhetoric has occasionally reached the level of personal attacks. Chávez once referred to U.S. President George W. Bush as a pendejo ("dumbass"), and constantly refers to him as Míster Danger. In a later speech, he made personal remarks regarding Condoleezza Rice, referring to her as a "complete illiterate" when it comes to comprehending Latin America.<ref>Ministerio de Comunicación e Información. (23 Jan 2005)."Marcha Defensa de la Soberanía". Retrieved 10 Nov 2005.</ref><ref name="diehl_28mar2005">Diehl, Jackson. (Washington Post, 28 Mar 2005). "Chavez's Censorship: Where 'Disrespect' Can Land You in Jail". Retrieved 10 Nov 2005.</ref><ref>People's Daily. (12 Jan 2004). "Chavez calls Condoleezza Rice an 'illiterate' following sharp criticism". Retrieved 10 Nov 2005.</ref> On September 20, 2006 Chavez called Bush "the devil".<ref></ref>

After Hurricane Katrina battered the United States’ Gulf Coast in late 2005, the Chávez administration was the first foreign government to offer aid to the devastated regions. The Bush administration opted to refuse this aid. Later during the winter of 2005, various officials in the Northeastern United States signed an agreement with Venezuela to provide discounted heating oil to low income families.

In a 2006 letter to the United States Congress, Chávez called on the U.S. Congress to "demand that the government of President Bush explain the self-inflicted attack on the World Trade Center and its victims, the supposed aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon and the links between the bin Laden family and the Bush family."[6] Chávez has referred several times in the past to suspicions that the 9/11 attacks were planned by the Bush administration, and has called for an inquiries in the past as well.

There have also been heated disputes between Chávez and other Latin American leaders, including one with Mexican President Vicente Fox over what Chávez alleged was Fox's support of U.S. trade interests. The dispute resulted in a strained diplomatic relationship between the two countries.<ref>BBC News. (14 Nov 2005). "Chavez and Fox recall ambassadors". Retrieved 14 Nov 2005.</ref> Another diplomatic row with Colombia, referred to as the Rodrigo Granda affair, occurred in 2004, after the kidnap of Rodrigo Granda, a high ranking member of the political wing of the FARC. In 2001, a dissension with Peru occurred over suspicions that Chávez's administration was protecting and hiding Vladimiro Montesinos,<ref name = PeruVenSpat>BBC News. Peru in diplomatic spat with Venezuela. Accessed 23 May 2006.</ref> a former Peruvian intelligence director under the Alberto Fujimori administration, wanted for corruption. Between January and March of 2006, Chávez commented on the candidates of the 2006 Peruvian Presidential election, openly backing Ollanta Humala while referring to Alan García as a "thief" and a "crook".<ref>BBC News. Peru recalls Venezuela ambassador. Accessed 23 May 2006.</ref><ref>BBC News.Venezuela recalls envoy to Peru. Accessed 23 May 2006.</ref> The Peruvian government therefore admonished Chávez for interfering in Peru's affairs.

On August 3, 2006 Chávez ordered the Venezuelan chargé d'affaires to Israel to return from Tel Aviv to Venezuela, protesting the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Israel responded by recalling its Israeli ambassador to Venezuela.<ref>President Chávez recalls chief of mission to Israel. El Universal (4 August 2006). Accessed 4 Aug 2006.</ref><ref>Israel is not informed about Venezuela's plans to break off relations. El Universal (August 9, 2006).</ref><ref> ADL: Chavez comparison of IDF and Hitler is outrageous. Haaretz service (August 8, 2006).</ref> Chávez made statements comparing Israel to Hitler and describing their actions as a "new Holocaust", and blaming the United States.<ref name=MiamiUproar>Shoer-Roth, Daniel. (9 August 2006) Uproar: Chávez equates Nazis, Israelis. Accessed 9 Aug 2006.</ref> He was strongly criticized by supporters of Israel for allegedly trivializing the Holocaust.<ref name=MiamiUproar/>

[edit] Chávez and the media

Even before the April 2002 coup, many owners, managers, and commentators working for the five major private mainstream television networks and largest mainstream newspapers had stated their opposition to Chávez's policies.<ref name=CJR>Dinges, John. Columbia Journalism Review (July 2005). "Soul Search". Retrieved 13 Jun 2006.</ref> These media outlets have accused the Chávez administration of intimidating their journalists using specially-dispatched gangs.<ref name=CJR /> Chávez in turn alleges that the owners of these networks have primary allegiance not to Venezuela but to the United States, and that they seek the advancement of what he terms neoliberalism via corporate propaganda.

According to Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University,

[The Venezuelan] media is chronically obsessed with Chávez, and critical in a way that would be completely alien for most U.S. observers.'
After the media-backed 2002 coup attempt, Venezuela passed 'social responsibility' legislation ostensibly regulating the media but has largely failed to enforce it.<ref name=DN21906>Democracy Now! Thursday, September 21st, 2006. [7] Retrieved 4 Oct 2006.</ref>

Throughout his presidency, Chávez has hosted the live talk show known as Aló Presidente ("Hello, President!").<ref>Lakshmanan, Indira. The Boston Globe (27 Jul 2005). "Channelling His Energies: Venezuelans riveted by president's TV show". Retrieved 15 Oct 2005.</ref> The show broadcasts in varying formats on state owned Venezolana de Televisión (VTV—Venezuelan State Television) each Sunday at 11:00 AM. The show features Chávez addressing topics of the day, taking phone calls and live questions from both the studio and broadcast audience, and touring locations where government social welfare programs are active. Additionally, on July 25, 2005, Chávez inaugurated TeleSUR, a proposed pan-American homologue of Al Jazeera that seeks to challenge the present domination of Latin American television news by Univision and the United States-based CNN en Español. Chávez's media policies have contributed to elevated tensions between the United States and Venezuela.<ref>Bruce, Ian. (BBC, 28 Jun 2005). "Venezuela sets up 'CNN rival'". Retrieved 13 Jun 2006.</ref>

[edit] Bolivarianism and Chavismo

Image:Chavez World Social Forum 2005.jpg
Chávez speaks during a 2005 visit to an MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra—"Landless Workers' Movement") encampment in Brazil. (Agência Brasil)

Chávez's version of Bolivarianism, although drawing heavily from Simón Bolívar's ideals, was also influenced by the writings of Marxist historian Federico Brito Figueroa. Chávez was well acquainted with the various traditions of Latin American socialism espoused by Jorge Eliécer Gaitán and Salvador Allende and from a young age by the Cuban revolutionary doctrine of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Other key influences on Chávez's political philosophy include Ezequiel Zamora and Simón Rodríguez. Other indirect influences on Chávez's political philosophy are the writings of Noam Chomsky and the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Bible (Chávez describes Jesus as the world's first socialist.) Although Chávez himself refers to his ideology as Bolivarianismo ("Bolivarianism"), Chávez's supporters and opponents in Venezuela refer to themselves as being either for or against "chavismo." Thus, Chávez supporters refer to themselves not as "Bolivarians" or "Bolivarianists," but rather as "chavistas."

Later in his life, Chávez would acknowledge the role that democratic socialism (a form of socialism that emphasizes grassroots democratic participation) plays in Bolivarianism.<ref>Sojo, Cleto A. (Venezuela Analysis, 31 Jan 2005). "Venezuela’s Chávez Closes World Social Forum with Call to Transcend Capitalism". Retrieved 20 Oct 2005.</ref> Because his Bolivarianism relies on popular support, Chávez has organized the "Bolivarian Circles," which he cites as examples of grassroots and participatory democracy. The circles are charged with such tasks as neighborhood beautification, mass mobilization, lending support to small businesses, and providing basic social services, but critics are suspect of their independence and aims.

[edit] Criticism

With respect to domestic policies, critics report that both corruption and crime are rampant.<ref name=PostCrime>Reel, M. "Crime Brings Venezuelans Into Streets". Washington Post (May 10, 2006), p. A17. Accessed 24 June 2006.</ref><ref>The Economist (Mar 30 2006), "Venezuela: The sickly stench of corruption". The Economist. Accessed 19 June 2006.</ref> They also cite a failing infrastructure and public hospitals.<ref name=EconPov>The Economist (Feb 16, 2006). Venezuela: Mission Impossible. The Economist, Retrieved 22 June 2006.</ref> Criticism from Chávez supporters arises from reports that Chávez is not fulfilling his major campaign pledges with respect to labor and land reform.<ref>Fuentes, Federico. (Venezuela Analysis, 26 Sep 2005). "Challenges for Venezuela's Workers’ Movement". Retrieved 05 Nov 2005.</ref><ref>Márquez, Humberto. (Inter Press Service, 05 Apr 2005). "Venezuela's Indigenous Peoples Protest Coal Mining". Retrieved 05 Nov 2005.</ref><ref>Parma, Alessandro. (Venezuela Analysis, 20 Oct 2005). "Pro-Chavez Union Leaders in Venezuela Urge Chavez to Do Better". Retrieved 15 Oct 2005.</ref>

Critics have also charged that the Chávez government has engaged in "gigantic fraud" during the 2004 recall referendum.<ref>BBC News. (BBC 17 August 2004). Observers endorse Venezuela vote. Retrieved 20 July 2006 </ref> The United States government claims that his cooperation in the War on Terrorism is negligible or purposely indifferent with regards to the FARC and ELN;<ref>Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. (US State Dept., April 28. 2006). "Country Reports: Western Hemisphere Overview". Retrieved June 26, 2006.</ref> nonetheless, the U.S. government says there is no evidence of a direct link between terrorism and Chávez.<ref>Kraul, Chris. (LA Times, 25 Jun 2006). "U.S. Eyes Venezuela-Iran Commercial Alliance". Retrieved 25 Jun 2006.</ref>

Several public figures have even gone so far as to call for the assassination of Chávez, most notably US Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson.<ref>ABCNews. "Televangelist Calls for Chavez's Death. Accessed 23 May 2006. [8]</ref> Other such requests have been expressed by Venezuelan actor Orlando Urdaneta<ref name=Crosshairs>Márquez Humberto. (IPS March 9 2006) "Statements Indicate Chávez May Indeed Be in Somebody's Crosshairs". Accessed 21 Jun 2006.</ref> and former president of Venezuela Carlos Andrés Pérez.<ref>Branford, Becky. BBC News (August 13, 2004). "Analysis: Chavez at eye of storm". BBC. Accessed 26 June 2006.</ref> The US Ambassador to Venezuela between 2001 and 2004, Charles Shapiro, also reported to the Chávez administration two potential assassination plots.<ref name=Crosshairs />

Chavez has been accused of concentrating power of judicial and legislative branches.<ref>The Washington Times (December 6, 2005). "Venezuela's pitiful election". The Washington Times.</ref>

[edit] Personal life

Chávez and his three daughters, Rosa Virginia, María Gabriela and Rosa Inés.

Hugo Chávez has been married twice. He first wedded Nancy Colmenares, a woman from a poor family originating in Chávez's own hometown of Sabaneta. Chávez and Colmenares remained married for eighteen years, during which time they had three children: Rosa Virginia, María Gabriela, and Hugo Rafael. They separated soon after Chávez's 1992 coup attempt. During his first marriage, Chávez also had an affair with young historian Herma Marksman; they had a relationship which lasted nine years, but ended.<ref name="Guillermoprieto 2005"/><ref>Byrne, Jennifer. (Foreign Correspondent, 03 Jun 2003). "Venezuela - Bolivarian Revolution". Retrieved 11 Nov 2005.</ref> Chávez is separated from his second wife, journalist Marisabel Rodríguez de Chávez. Through that marriage, Chávez had another daughter, Rosa Inés. Chávez has one granddaughter, Gabriela.<ref>Palast, Greg. (BBC Newsnight, 2 May 2002). "Venezuela President Hugo Chavez: Interview". Retrieved 09 Nov 2005.</ref>

Chávez was raised a Roman Catholic,<ref>Hugo Chávez. Discurso en inauguración de la I Cumbre sobre la Deuda Social y la Integración Latinoamericana. (10 July 2001).Accessed 12 October 2006.(Spanish)</ref> although he has had a series of disputes with both the Venezuelan Catholic clergy and the Protestant church hierarchies.<ref name=NewTribes/><ref>Kozloff, Nikolas. (Venezuela Analysis, 24 Oct 2005). "Venezuela’s War of Religion". Retrieved 11 Nov 2005.</ref> He has traditionally kept his own faith a private matter, but over the course of his presidency, Chávez has become increasingly open to discussing his religious views, stating that both his faith and his interpretation of Jesus' personal life and ideology have had a profound impact on his leftist and progressivist views.<ref name="chavez_17sep2005" /> He often invokes God and asks for prayer in speeches, as he did when he asked Venezuelans to pray for Fidel Castro.<ref>Obiko Pearson, Natalie. Associated Press (August 10, 2006). Chavez Says Castro Fighting for Life. The Washington Post.</ref>

[edit] See also

Image:Flag of Venezuela (state).svg      Topics related to Hugo Chávez      Image:Coat of arms of Venezuela.svg
Biography Early life | Military career | Presidency
Political events Coup attempt of 1992 | Coup attempt of 2002 | Recall referendum of 2004 | Putative coup attempt of 2004
Elections Presidential election of 1998 | Presidential election of 2000 | Presidential election of 2006
Governance Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas | Bolivarian Circles | Bolivarianism | Bolivarian Revolution | Cabinet | Constitution | Foreign policy
Bolivarian Missions Barrio Adentro | Guaicaipuro | Hábitat | Identidad | Mercal | Miranda | Piar | Plan Bolivar 2000 | Ribas | Robinson | Sucre | Vuelta al Campo | Vuelvan Caras | Zamora
Reactions Criticism | Media representation | The Revolution Will Not Be Televised | Súmate

Image:Flag of Venezuela (state).svg      Presidents of Venezuela      Image:Venezuela coat of arms.png
Mendoza | Bolívar | Bolívar | Páez | Vargas | Narvarte | Carreño | Soublette | Páez | Soublette | J.T. Monagas | J.G. Monagas | J.T. Monagas | Gual | J. Castro | Gual | Tovar | Gual | Páez | Falcón | Bruzual | Villegas | J.R. Monagas | Villegas | Guzmán | Linares | Varela | Guzmán | Crespo | Guzmán | H. López | Rojas | Andueza | Villegas | Crespo | Andrade | C. Castro | Gómez | Márques | Gómez | J. Pérez | Gómez | E. López | Medina | Betancourt | Gallegos | Delgado Chalbaud | Suárez Flamerich | Pérez Jiménez | Larrazábal | Sanabria | Betancourt | Leoni | Caldera | C. Pérez | Herrera | Lusinchi | C. Pérez | Velásquez | Caldera | Chávez | Carmona | Cabello | Chávez

[edit] Notes

<references />

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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[edit] Other links


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Hugo Chávez

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