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"El Fenomeno Chavez:" Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Modern Day Bolivar

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Hugo Chavez, the charismatic and controversial President of Venezuela, reached the ultimate seat of political power with his election as head of state in 1998. Carefully cultivating the image of an impoverished Venezuelan youth reaching the highest political office in Venezuela, Chavez has a devoted and loyal following among Venezuelas lower class. Having survived several political crises, Chavez is a masterful political gamesman who zealously guards his power while maintaining a staunchly anti-American and anti-elite stance. This requires a delicate balancing act, as he gains strength from his oppositional stance to the Venezuelan elite and the West, especially the United States, whose financial resources are crucial to Venezuelas economic survival. His outrageous and confrontational rhetoric, which increases during times of internal instability, has consistently worked to unite his followers in support of his leadership he portrays himself as a modern day Simon Bolivar. It is this unquestioning support by Venezuelas lower class that has enabled him to survive the slow destruction of Venezuelas economy, internal discord, and ultimately a coup attempt in 2002. His internationally recognized victory in the August 2004 referendum has surely emboldened him. The precipitous announcement on October 11, 2004, that royalties paid by foreign oil companies would be increased from 1 to 16.6 percent, represented the second and true phase of the nationalization of the countrys oil. Encouraged by the validation of his victories at the polls, Chavez has increasingly allied himself with, and publicly supported, major adversaries of the United States, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea, as well as Hamas. As his hold on power becomes more absolute, so does his vision of himself as the savior of Venezuela. Hugo Chavez is likely to do whatever it takes to retain his hold on power to secure his place in history.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Government and Political Science
  • Psychology

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