Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Hugo Chávez dies

Replacing one of most colourful figures on the global political landscape will be an immense challenge. Born to a poor family on the plains, Chávez became a tank commander and a devotee of South America's liberator, Simón Bolívar. A failed coup in 1992 propelled him into the limelight but it was his ballot box triumphs that made him an inspiration for the resurgent Latin American left and the most outspoken – and often humorous – critic of the US, the war in Iraq and George Bush, whom he described as a "donkey" and a "devil". Formerly one of the most dynamic political leaders in the world with a globe-trotting schedule and a weekly, unscripted TV broadcast – often hours long – Chávez shocked his countrymen in June 2011 when he revealed that Cuban surgeons had removed a baseball-sized tumour from his pelvic region. 
The Guardian: Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, dies in Caracas, March 5, 2013 
Still, he created what few thought possible in a market economy at the dawn of the 21st century: a governing structure revolving around a single willful, mercurial personality — a man who seemed to believe in his own myth. Between trips to Cuba for treatment, that force of personality helped him to win a re-election campaign in October 2012. Even a setback would only embolden him. After he unexpectedly lost a referendum on a constitutional overhaul in 2007, he set about reminding citizens that his efforts to install a new order were not over. On billboards across Caracas appeared the words “por ahora.” 
NY Times: A Polarizing Figure Who Led a Movement, March 5, 2013 

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