52nd president of Venezuela. Chavez attended the Venezuelan military academy and served as an army officer before participating in an effort to overthrow the government of Carlos Andres Perez in 1992, along with other disenchanted members of the military. The coup failed and Chávez spent two years in prison before being pardoned. He eventually became president of Venezuela in 1999. Early into his presidency, he created a new constitution for the country, which included changing its name to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Later, he focused his efforts on gaining control of the state-run oil company, which stirred controversy and led to protests, strained relations with the United States and other nations, and Chávez briefly being removed from power. His actions included selling oil to Cuba and resisting efforts to stop narcotic trafficking in Columbia. In 2006, Chávez helped create the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a socialist free-trade organization. As president, he encountered some challenges both at home and aboard. His efforts to tighten his hold on the state-run oil company in 2002 stirred up controversy and led to numerous protests which led to his removal from power briefly in April 2002 by military leaders. The protests continued after his return to power, and led to a referendum on whether Chávez should remain president. The referendum vote was held in August 2004, and a majority of the voters decided to let Chávez complete his term in office. Since 2011, he had undergone three surgeries to remove cancerous tumors and reportedly discovered that he had cancer in June 2011, following a surgery to remove a pelvic abscess. In preparation for his third surgery in December 2012, Chávez acknowledged the severity of the operation as well as the possibility of not being able to continue his service as president, and named Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his successor.
Bio by: Louis du Mort