May 22, 2013
Factbox: Chávez, 14 years in power
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died today after his battle with cancer, ending the socialist leader's extraordinary 14-year rule of the OPEC nation.
Here are some key facts about Chávez:
* He led a 1992 coup against then-President Carlos Andres Pérez that failed but launched his political career. A brief speech while he was being led away to jail, wearing his trademark red beret, electrified many Venezuelans and propelled him toward the presidency as a populist leader.
* After being pardoned, Chávez toured the country before winning a 1998 election. He took office early the following year. For many poor voters, he symbolized a fresh start after decades of governments widely seen as self-serving and corrupt.
* Private media and business leaders remained staunchly against Chávez, however, and in 2002 a group of opposition politicians and dissident troops staged a coup. Chávez was arrested and flown to a military base on a Caribbean island.
* Two days later, loyal military officers and protests by supporters swept him back to power. Chávez accused the United States of being behind the putsch, and said he feared he was about to be killed. The drama of his return as president took on almost religious overtones for some passionate "Chavistas."
* Chávez enjoyed wide backing among the poor majority partly due to massive state spending to expand health and education programs, financed by income from oil exports. He also cultivated support by confronting the United States, which he denounced as a decadent, war-mongering empire.
* Several times he threatened to stop oil shipments to the United States - including when he accused then-US President George W. Bush of backing the 2002 coup - but never did so. The United States remains Venezuela's biggest oil export market, but Chávez also increased fuel sales to China and anti-Western states such as Belarus, Iran and Syria.
* Inspired by his friend and mentor, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chávez took Venezuela down an increasingly radical path, nationalizing much of the economy and running the government with a micro-managing - and many said autocratic - style.
* Opponents accused Chávez of repressing critics, squandering record oil revenues and scaring away investors by seizing assets ranging from shops and farms to multibillion-dollar refinery projects run by foreign energy companies.
* Chávez adopted a deliberately populist style, using colourful and strong language that drew on the macho culture of the "llanos" of his youth, and the barracks of his military career. Like Castro, he was known for long-winded televised speeches that often dragged late into the night. In 2012, he broke his own record by speaking for nearly 10 hours.
* Chávez announced in mid-2011 that he was being treated for cancer. He underwent four operations in Cuba, as well as gruelling chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He wrongly declared himself cured twice.
* Chávez won re-election in October 2012 with 55 percent of the vote, but was too ill to be sworn in for his new six-year term beginning on Jan. 10. Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that he remained president, even in the hospital.
* He flew back to Venezuela in February and went straight to a military hospital in Caracas to continue receiving treatment.
* On March 5, 2013, his vice president said he had died.