Skip links

Facts About Hugo Chavez For Kids

Hugo Chavez was a Venezuelan revolutionary, politician, and architect who led the Fourth Republic of Venezuela from 1999 until he died in 2013. Chavez rose to prominence following a failed coup in 1992, holding elected office for 16 years as a radical leftist President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013.

He was a champion of populist socialist policies such as massive nationalizations, oil wealth redistribution, and economic interventionism by state-owned companies into local businesses. Chavez also advocated for strict government control of the media. However, after suffering a series of major setbacks in his later years, Chavez turned to increasingly authoritarian measures against his political enemies, including censorship and expropriation of private businesses that he deemed to be in opposition to his policies. As a result, Chavez’s popularity steadily plummeted after he failed the 2012 presidential bid, which ended in an electoral defeat by Henrique Capriles Radonski.

  • Chavez’s record of curtailing Venezuelans’ civil and constitutional rights attracted considerable condemnation from international human rights watchdogs.
  • Following his election in 1998, the new constitution drafted by Chavez and his political allies was approved by a landslide referendum and came into effect in early 1999. Opponents of the government were removed from their positions, including judges on the Supreme Court, and new electoral rules were enacted to ensure more pro-Chavez candidates on future ballots.
  • By 2001 under the Constitution of Venezuela, Chavez had effectively become an unelected dictator. A referendum in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment to this effect, although the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the vote was invalid due to procedural irregularities. As a result, international election monitors told The New York Times in 2005 that Venezuela had “a one-party state where one man, President Hugo Chavez, dominates all branches of government.”
  • On 20 March 2012, Chavez suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke while undergoing medical cancer treatment. Vice President Nicolas Maduro was declared acting president in his stead. Chavez died on 5 March 2013 at the age of 58.
  • Hugo Chávez was the President of Venezuela, having held that position from 1999 until he died in 2013.
  • He was formerly the Fifth Republic Movement political party leader from 1997 until 2007, when he became 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, the nationalization of several key industries, increased government funding of health care and education, and significant reductions in poverty, according to government figures.
  • Born into a working-class family in Sabaneta, Barinas, Chávez became a career military officer. After becoming dissatisfied with the Venezuelan political system, he founded the secretive Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200) in the early 1980s to overthrow it.
  • He subsequently introduced a new constitution that increased rights for marginalized groups and altered the structure of the Venezuelan government, and was re-elected in 2000.
  • During his second presidential term, he introduced a system of Bolivarian Missions, Communal Councils, worker-managed cooperatives, and a land reform program whilst also nationalizing various key industries.
  • 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.
  • After being mobbed by adoring crowds following his release, Chávez went on a 100-day tour of the country, promoting his Bolivarian cause of social revolution.
  • Coupled with this drop in the standard of living, widespread dissatisfaction with the representative democratic system in Venezuela had “led to gaps emerging between rulers and ruled which favored the emergence of a populist leader.”
  • In opposition to her right-wing and pro-establishment views, 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 “legal-political embodiment of puntofijismo,” the country’s traditional two-party patronage system.
  • His critics referred to this group of government officials as the “Boliburguesía” or “Bolivarian bourgeoisie” and highlighted the fact that it “included few people with experience in public administration.”
  • The new constitution included increased protections for indigenous peoples and women and established the rights of the public to education, housing, healthcare, and food.
  • United Socialist Party of Venezuela and domestic policy On 15 December 2006, Chávez announced that those leftist political parties who had continually supported him in the Patriotic Pole would unite into one single, much larger party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
  • However, the United Nations’ International Labour Organization expressed concern over some voters’ being pressured to join the party.
  • In 2010, Chávez supported 184 communes, housing thousands of families with $23 million in government funding.
  • In the 1999 Venezuelan constitution, 116 of 300 articles were concerned with human rights; these included increased protections for indigenous peoples and women and established the rights of the public to education, housing, healthcare, and food.