From the energetic "for the time being" to the unhurried, ill candidate
The Venezuelan leader is running for his third reelection in order to complete 20 years in office
In this way, Venezuelans first met Hugo Chávez. Since them, he has not left the political scene. After his failed coup, he would be imprisoned together with several comrades in arms until March 26, 1994, when President Rafael Caldera (1993-1998) pardoned him.
Since then, he rocks to and fro in his political ideals. In the local election of 1995, he would call for abstention. In 1997, he created Movimiento V República (MVR). In 1995, married to Marisabel Rodríguez, and holding his fourth child in his arms, a slim, energetic Chávez ran for Venezuelan President.
He would beat on December 6, 1998 former Carabobo state governor Henrique Salas Römer, turning into the youngest president of Venezuela in the democratic era.
The lieutenant colonel, holder of a Bachelor Degree of Military Sciences and Arts, from the Venezuelan Military Academy, arrived in Miraflores presidential palace on February 2, 1999 after being sworn in, with his hand on "a moribund Constitution," intended to be buried through a Constituent Assembly. He made it 11 months later and his feat enabled him to take the presidential term in office to six years compared with five years, as set forth in the 1961 Constitution.
Chávez accomplished "re-legitimization of incumbencies," in addition to his ratification, and a one-and-a-half extension. In the "mega-election of 2000," he beat today's Deputy Francisco Arias Cárdenas, his comrade in arms, who at that time was part of the opposition.
Back in 1998, before being elected, Chávez promised to hand over in five years, as stated in the Constitution, However, he would change his mind. He forecast that he would rule until 2012; later on, he affirmed that he needed to remain in office until 2031 in order to consolidate the Bolivarian Revolution and his 21st Century Socialism.
After facing a coup attempt on April 11, 2002; the oil strike in December 2002; launching the welfare programs called missions, and confronting a recall referendum on August 15, 2004, the "President Commander" ran again for re-election. On December 3, 2006, supported by ruling MVR party and a coalition of 24 allied parties, he defeated ex Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales.
Very little has remained from a slender, young man who showed up on TV for the first time 20 years ago, not only because of the inexorable passage of time, but also because of his ailment.
On June 30, 2011, during a joint obligatory radio and TV broadcast from Havana, Cuba, Chávez himself told Venezuelans that he had been removed a tumor and should undergo chemotherapy. Nevertheless, under no circumstances whatsoever has this undermined his eagerness to keep on being the Venezuelan president.
After almost 14 years in office, Chávez, 57, seeks to remain in power for additional six years. The father of four children born into two marriages, without a first lady, is usually accompanied in his public appearances by his daughter Rosa Virginia and, occasionally, Rosinés.
If his dream comes true, Chávez could complete 20 years in office.
In the opinion of dissenters, cancer has weakened Chávez; for his supporters, he is more popular than ever. Nevertheless, most of Venezuelans know nothing about his real health condition. He has taken good care of hiding the exact site of the resection of two cancerous masses. Perhaps to dispel rumors about his poor health condition, he would arrive dancing and singing at the rostrum provided on Diego Ibarra square, downtown Caracas, to address himself to his followers after enrolling as a candidate for his third re-election.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."