Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈuɣo rafaˈel ˈtʃaβes ˈfɾi.as]; born July 28, 1954) is the 61st and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Following his own political ideology of Bolivarianism and "Socialism for the 21st Century", he has focused on implementing socialist reforms in the country as a part of a social project known as the Bolivarian Revolution, which has seen the implementation of a new constitution, participatory democratic councils and the nationalisation of several key industries.
Born into a working class family in Sabaneta, Barinas, Chávez became a career military officer, and after becoming dissatisfied with the Venezuelan puntofijismo political system which he viewed as corrupt and undemocratic, he founded the secretive Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200) in the early 1980s to work towards overthrowing it. After the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez ordered the violent repression of protests against spending cuts, Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d'état against the government in 1992, for which he was imprisoned.
Getting out of prison after two years, he founded a social democratic political party, the Fifth Republic Movement, and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998. He subsequently introduced a new constitution which increased rights for marginalised groups and altered the structure of Venezuelan government, and was re-elected in 2000. During his second presidential term, he introduced a system of Bolivarian Missions, Communal Councils and worker-managed cooperatives, as well as a program of land reform, whilst also nationalising various key industries. The opposition movement meanwhile, arguing that he was a populist who was eroding representative democracy and becoming increasingly authoritative, attempted to remove him from power both through an unsuccessful military coup in 2002 and a recall referendum in 2004. In 2005, he openly proclaimed his adherence to socialism, and was again elected into power in 2006, following which he founded his new political party, the PSUV, in 2007. Although suffering from cancer in 2011, Chávez has stated his intention to stand for re-election in 2012.
A self-professed anti-imperialist and vocal critic of neoliberalism and capitalism more generally, Chávez has been a prominent opponent of the United States' foreign policy. Allying himself strongly with the socialist governments of Fidel and then Raúl Castro in Cuba, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, his presidency is seen as a part of the leftist "pink tide" sweeping Latin America. He has supported Latin American and Caribbean cooperation and was instrumental in setting up the pan-regional Union of South American Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, the Bank of the South, and the regional television network TeleSur. A highly controversial and divisive figure both at home and abroad, his political influence in Latin America led Time magazine to include him among their list of the world's 100 most influential people in both 2005 and 2006.
Sabaneta, Barinas, where Chávez was born and raised.
Hugo Chávez was born on 28 July 1954 in his paternal grandmother Rosa Inéz Chávez's home, a three-room mud hut located in the rural village Sabaneta, Barinas State. The Chávez family were of Amerindian, Afro-Venezuelan, and Spanish descent. His parents, Hugo de los Reyes Chávez and Elena Frías de Chávez, were working-lower middle class schoolteachers who lived in the small village of Los Rastrojos. Hugo was born the second of seven children, including their eldest, Adán Chávez. The couple lived in poverty, leading them to send Hugo and Adán to live with their grandmother Rosa, whom Hugo would later describe as being "a pure human being... pure love, pure kindness." She was a devout Roman Catholic, and Hugo was an altar boy at a local church.Hugo described his childhood as "poor...very happy", and experienced "humility, poverty, pain, sometimes not having anything to eat", and "the injustices of this world."
Attending the Julián Pino Elementary School, Chávez's hobbies included drawing, painting, baseball and history. He was particularly interested in the 19th-century federalist general Ezequiel Zamora, in whose army his own great-great-grandfather had served. In the mid-1960s, Hugo, his brother and their grandmother moved to the city of Barinas so that the boys could attend what was then the only high school in the rural state, the Daniel O'Leary High School. He has described himself during those years as "a normal boy" with no "political motivation", and that he devoted his time to school studies, playing baseball and chasing girls.
biography of President Hugo Cháve president of Venezuela