El Comandante! El Comandante! If you scream that in the streets of Venezuela, there is only one person you could possibly be referring to – Hugo Chávez. The current president of the South American country, Venezuela, has been in power for the past four years. His time in office has been criticized by most and glorified by some. He has had the backing of other countries such as Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Libya and Iraq. On the other hand, the United States has had a continuous growth of confusion for Chávez’s actions. The leader’s intentions have been surrounded by a circle of uncertainty. Chávez’s life as president or even before those days has been far from interesting. Hugo Chávez has been a leader, a commander and a revolutionist.
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was born in Sabaneta de Barinas, a small town in the lightly populated savannah. His young life was simple. He grew up selling bananas and sowing corn. He enjoyed the academics and had a thirst for knowledge. Chávez excelled in baseball, the country’s national pastime. José López, Chávez’s baseball coach, described the youngster as, “A tough little kid, mischievous, a real talker and dreamer, but as tenacious as hell” (Rother). As he grew up he had a growing curiosity towards the military and those with power. He was assigned to many regions where he performed different duties. He also had the opportunity to meet numerous people. A former classmate and friend of Chávez, Jesús Hernández recalled,
“We were a group of four or five captains who used to jog together in the afternoons, and one day in 1983 Chávez suggested we swear an oath to fight against corruption and for the welfare of our country…from that moment on, we began to study the problems of Venezuela in a systematic way, and as time passed we got more and more young officers to join us” (Rother).
One of the most memorable times of Chávez’s life before his presidency was in 1992. Along with other officers, Chávez attacked the presidential palace. The coup failed militarily as they were unable to capture the president. Those involved surrendered and were imprisoned. Chávez wasn’t freed until 2 years after the attempt assassination. He calls this event and time spent in jail as the pivotal turning point in his life. He then restarted his movement and made the transition from soldier to politician.
On the night of December 5, 1998, Venezuelans witnessed one of the most surprising electoral results in their democratic history. Hugo Chávez triumphed with an enormous 57 percent of the vote. He promised to transform Venezuela. But when Chávez came to power, the old Venezuelan order was falling apart. The country had enjoyed an unbroken period of democratic government since 1958, but was accused of a corrupt system. Chávez promised revolutionary social policies.
“To business leaders and international investors, Chávez is the red menace resurrected. To the poor, he is the impatient...