Hugo Chavez Fact Sheet
- Born to a working class family in 1954.
- He was a career military officer and heavily influenced in his early years by revolutionary movements and writings.
- He was arrested for his part in a coup in 1992 but became a national hero at that time.
- Elected to the presidency in 1998.
- He nationalized much of the country’s industry and isolated oil as the primary, and nearly exclusive, export of Venezuela. During the rule of Hugo Chavez oil made up 95% of the country’s exports.
- In 2006 Hugo Chavez and Venezuela became a beneficiary of the drastic rise in oil prices. This rise in oil prices lifted Venezuela’s economy to unprecedented heights until oil prices fell in 2013.
- Thank in large part to the oil wealth Chavez was able to reduce Venezuela’s poverty rate from 50% in 1998 to 30% at the time of his death. In the course of the current crisis it has skyrocketed to 80%.
- Chavez built up Venezuela as a powerhouse in the region by providing cheap oil to their neighbors and massive loans. Frequently these loans were little more than financial gifts.
- Hugo Chavez died of a massive heart attack March 5, 2013.