President Hugo Chavez has died after 14 years in office
Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, has died after 14 years in office, during which he was famed for his colourful and often controversial rule that challenged the status quo both domestically and internationally.
The 58-year-old lost his two-year battle with cancer on Tuesday with Vice President Nicolas Maduro announcing the news in a special television broadcast later that day saying Chavez died at 4.25pm local time.
Hugo Chavez divided the nation with his domineering leadership style combined with a confrontational approach, he capitalised on Venezuelan nationalism in order to win votes focusing predominantly on the poor.
And it is here where he made the most significant mark. Using the country’s oil wealth, he developed social programmes targeting support for the country’s poorest people. Initiatives included state-run food markets, free health clinics and education.
During his 14-year rule poverty declined although critics claim he failed to makes the most of the country’s oil earnings and the boom in prices to develop Venezuela’s economy on a larger scale. Chavez, who often wore a bright red beret, regularly hit headlines for his crusade against America.
He was known as El Comandante and as his health deteriorated he ensured he stayed in touch with Venezuelans through Twitter messages and by phone call broadcasts on television.