Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was born July 28, 1954, in the city of Sabaneta, Venezuela. An early advocate of politics, Chavez attended the Venezuelan Military Academy of Science in his youth and graduated in 1975 with a degree in science. Chavez served his country as an army officer shortly prior to his imprisonment for attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government in 1992.
Born of educated parents, Chavez was fortunate to have had the luxury of books at a time, and in a country where education was not emphasized as it is today. Subsequently, Chavez spent two-years in prison for his actions, then, was pardoned by the country's then current leader, Carlos Andres Perez. After years of planning, Chavez initiated his own revolutionary party, the Fifth Republic.
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In 1998, Chavez ran for president, campaigning in opposition of the stagnant economic status and the continuous rise in corruption. A year later, Chavez took office and immediately began transforming the country according to his vision.
Due to attempting to take control of state owned oil companies, this sparked controversy leading to demonstrations and protests against the leader's motives. This affected military leaders and government officials, resulting in temporarily revoking his power and then reinstating him as president after an August 2004 referendum vote was conducted; the votes were unanimous and Chavez was allowed to finish his term in office.
In accordance to Chavez's reformed constitution, the country was changed to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. His opinions of american tradition and customs were not favored. He is quoted referring to George W. Bush as an evil imperialist. Chavez's outspoken and hostile nature had offended other world leaders, members of the organized religion community, but particularly his personal vendetta was against the United States. Chavez believed the US was directly involved in the attempt to overthrow his leadership.
Tension grew steadily between Venezuela and the United States due to Chavez revoking US rights to impede drug trafficking near Columbia; the selling of oil to Cuba and his strong objection to the war in Iraq. Chavez threatened to arrest the sale of oil to the United States if any other attempts were pursued in revoking his power.
His humanitarian induced contribution of heating oil to the victims of Hurricane Katrina was appreciated and recognized by the United States.
Rich Venezuelan oil resources made it possible for Chavez to secure ties with China, Angola, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Bolivian President Evo Morales--establishing what was known as the socialist free-trade market.
Chavez was diagnosed with cancer sometime in June 2011. From 2011-2012 three surgeries were performed on Chavez in attempts to remove the tumors. Due to deteriorating health, Chavez stepped down from his presidency and declared Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his successor. This prevented Chavez from serving his fourth term as President.
Despite former conflicts with the United States, President Obama sympathizes with the loss of their leader, stating it will be challenging for the people of Venezuela. President Obama insists to create a civilized relationship with the Venezuelan government.
After a long struggle with cancer, Chavez passed away March 5, 2013 at 58-years-old. He is survived by his wife and their five children.