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Hugo Chavez Dies

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Hugo Chavez Dies

Post  Panda on Tue 5 Mar - 23:49

Hugo Chavez: A Master Of The Spotlight

The president had not been seen in public for the three
months but the cult of his personality kept his leadership alive.

10:54pm UK,
Tuesday 05 March 2013

Mr Chavez was often pictured with his pet

  • By Rachel Younger, Sky News Correspondent

    Hugo Chavez was one of the most charismatic and controversial
    leaders of our time.

    A master of the spotlight, his military fatigues and synthetic red tracksuits
    underlining his socialist credentials made him a photographer's dream.

    Best of all were the shots that captured him with his pet parrot, named after
    a Venezuelan General, and sometimes sporting a tiny red beret to match his

    No wonder he caught the imagination of Hollywood filmstars and directors. One
    day attending premieres with Oliver Stone, the next sharing jokes with Naomi
    Mr Chavez in a Cuban hospital with his
    Mr Chavez was a former soldier who was elected president in 1998, after being
    imprisoned for a failed coup seven years earlier.

    His nineties brand of revolutionary socialism won him plenty of affection
    amongst the poor, with many of his supporters viewing him with almost religious

    It was an emotional connection he was happy to milk on his weekly television
    show, Alo Presidente. The masses tuning in for his rambling poetry recitals and
    even stranger song and dance routines.

    His country's vast oil reserves gave the president the money to tackle
    poverty, boosting spending on health and education. But corruption and
    mismanagement left the economy struggling and democracy withered under his
    Mr Chavez throws a baseball for the
    An increasingly autocratic Mr Chavez changed the constitution to allow
    unlimited presidential terms, stamped hard on press freedom and nationalised
    many of the country's industries.

    A natural firebrand, he didn't confine himself to Latin American politics.
    Instead he took on the West by courting fellow controversial figures like Cuba's
    Fidel Castro and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, forging a close alliance with Iran
    and offering Argentina support on the Falklands.

    But Mr Chavez saved most of his wrath for the Americans, regularly referring
    to George W Bush as Mr Danger, and accusing Washington of "fighting terror with
    terror" in Afghanistan.

    In one particularly bellicose statement in 2006 he appeared at the UN a day
    after the former American president and stated: "The Devil came here yesterday.
    It smells of sulphur still".

    Even after four operations and intensive chemotherapy for his cancer, Mr
    Chavez maintained his grip on the country, anointing Vice President Nicholas
    Maduro as his preferred successor.

    Too ill in January to travel back from Cuba for his inauguration, he managed
    to hang on to the presidency despite the constitution forbidding it.

    For the three months before he died Mr Chavez wasn't seen or heard of
    publicly yet the cult of his personality was enough to keep his leadership

    Without it, Venezuela may emerge a very different country.
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