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president hugo chavez


Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is still suffering breathing problems after returning from Cuba where he was treated for cancer, officials say.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Hugo Chavez was continuing to receive treatment at a military hospital in Caracas.

It was the first official communiqué on the president’s health since he returned to Venezuela on Monday.

Hugo Chavez went to Havana for surgery on December 11.

It was his fourth operation in an 18-month period for cancer, which was first diagnosed in mid-2011.

Hugo Chavez is said to have suffered a severe respiratory infection following the latest surgery.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is still suffering breathing problems after returning from Cuba where he was treated for cancer

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is still suffering breathing problems after returning from Cuba where he was treated for cancer

“The breathing insufficiency that emerged post-operation persists, and the tendency has not been favorable, so it is still being treated,” Ernesto Villegas said in a televised statement.

President Hugo Chavez, in office for 14 years, was re-elected for another six-year term in October 2012, but his swearing-in was delayed because of his illness.

Doubts remain about whether his health will allow him to return to active politics.

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is suffering from “complications” brought on by a “severe lung infection” which developed after surgery, officials say.

Hugo Chavez, 58, had his fourth operation for cancer in Cuba on December 11 and then developed a respiratory infection.

In a statement from Caracas, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said the infection had “led to a respiratory insufficiency”.

Hugo Chavez is due to be sworn in for another term in office on January 10.

“[Mr.] Chavez has faced complications as a consequence of a severe lung infection,” said Ernesto Villegas.

The president has not been seen in public since having cancer surgery in Havana, prompting persistent speculation about his condition.

The information minister was among a number of Hugo Chavez’s political allies who have urged people not to believe what they called lies about his health.

Ernesto Villegas warned Venezuelans not to be taken in by a “psychological war” being fought in the media which had the “ultimate aim of destabilizing the Bolivarian republic”.

Hugo Chavez is suffering from complications brought on by a severe lung infection which developed after surgery

Hugo Chavez is suffering from complications brought on by a severe lung infection which developed after surgery

Vice-President Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly Head Diosdado Cabello visited Hugo Chavez this week, along with several other dignitaries.

Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday that President Hugo Chavez was “conscious” and had gripped his hand firmly as they discussed Venezuelan politics.

He and Diosdado Cabello flew back to Caracas on Thursday and dismissed rumors of a split in the governing socialist movement.

“We’re more unified than ever,” Vice-President Nicolas Maduro said upon his return to Venezuela from Cuba.

“We swore in front of Commander Chavez that we’ll be united at the side of our people,” he said.

Opposition activists have speculated about a split between Nicolas Maduro, whom President Hugo Chavez named as his preferred successor, and Diosdado Cabello, who the constitution decrees should temporarily take over power if the Venezuelan leader were to have “an absolute absence”.

Diosdado Cabello said that those who were spreading rumours about problems between him and Nicolas Maduro would “have to wait 2,000 years for that to happen”.

Hugo Chavez has been in power since 1999 and was elected for a fourth term in office in October.

It is unclear if he will be able to attend the swearing-in ceremony for another six-year term in office next week, nor what the procedure would be if he was unable to attend.

Diosdado Cabello recently said that the ceremony could be delayed. But the opposition says such a move would be unconstitutional.

Opposition politicians say there have been no independent reports of the president’s condition.

On Thursday, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma demanded that a commission travel to Cuba to report back on Hugo Chavez’s health.

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez was born in 1954 and is a former Army Lieutenant Colonel.

A populist, Hugo Chávez has instituted what he calls a “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela, where key industries have been nationalized and oil revenues are used in social programs for the poor. Hugo Chávez is a vocal critic of the United States of America, in particular former President George W. Bush, who he once famously and publicly called a “donkey.” He is very popular with poor Venezuelans, who in February of 2009 voted to abolish term limits, allowing him to run for re-election indefinitely.

Early life:

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was born on July 28, 1954, to a poor family in the town of Sabaneta in the province of Barinas. His father was a schoolteacher and opportunities for young Hugo were limited: he joined the military at the age of seventeen. He graduated from the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences when he was 21 and was commissioned as an officer. He attended college while in the military but did not get a degree. After his studies, he was assigned to a counter-insurgency unit, the start of a long and noteworthy military career. He also served as head of a paratrooper unit.

Hugo Chávez in the military:

Hugo Chávez was a skilled officer, moving up in the ranks quickly and earning several commendations. He eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He spent some time as an instructor in his old school, the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences. During his time in the military, he came up with “Bolivarianism,” named for the liberator of northern South America, Venezuelan Simón Bolívar. Hugo Chávez even went so far as to form a secret society within the army, the Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200, or the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement 200. Hugo Chávez has long been an admirer of Simón Bolívar.

The coup of 1992:

Hugo Chávez was only one of many Venezuelans and army officers who were disgusted by corrupt Venezuelan politics, exemplified by President Carlos Pérez. Along with some fellow officers, Hugo Chávez decided to forcibly oust Carlos Pérez. In the morning of February 4, 1992, Hugo Chávez led five squads of loyal soldiers into Caracas, where they were to seize control of important targets including the Presidential Palace, the airport, the Defense Ministry and the military museum. All around the country, sympathetic officers seized control of other cities. Hugo Chávez and his men failed to secure Caracas, however and the coup was quickly put down.

Prison and entry into politics:

Chávez was allowed to go on television to explain his actions, and the poor people of Venezuela identified with him. He was sent to prison but vindicated the following year when President Pérez was convicted in a massive corruption scandal. Chávez was pardoned by President Rafael Caldera in 1994 and soon entered politics. He turned his MBR 200 society into a legitimate political party, the Fifth Republic Movement (abbreviated as MVR) and in 1998 ran for president.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez was born in 1954 and is a former Army Lieutenant Colonel

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez was born in 1954 and is a former Army Lieutenant Colonel

President:

Chávez was elected in a landslide at the end of 1998, racking up 56% of the vote. Taking office in February 1999, he quickly began implementing aspects of his “Bolivarian” brand of socialism. Clinics were set up for the poor, construction projects were approved and social programs were added. Chávez wanted a new constitution and the people approved first the assembly and then the constitution itself. Among other things, the new constitution officially changed the name of the country to the “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” With a new constitution in place, Chávez had to run for re-election: he won easily.

Coup:

Venezuela’s poor loved Hugo Chávez, but the middle and upper classed despised him. On April 11, 2002, a demonstration in support of the national oil company’s management (recently fired by Hugo Chávez) turned into a riot when the demonstrators marched on the presidential palace, where they clashed with pro-Chavez forces and supporters. Hugo Chávez briefly resigned and the United States was quick to recognize the replacement government. When pro-Chavez demonstrations broke out all over the country, he returned and resumed his presidency on April 13. Hugo Chávez has always believed that the United States was behind the attempted coup.

Political survivor:

Hugo Chávez has proven to be a tough and charismatic leader. His administration survived a recall vote in 2004, and used the results as a mandate to expand social programs. He has emerged as a leader in the new Latin American leftist movement and has close ties with leaders such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo. His administration even survived a 2008 incident when laptops seized from Colombian Marxist rebels seemed to indicate that Hugo Chávez was funding them in their struggle against the Colombian government.

Hugo Chávez and the US:

Much like his mentor Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez has gained much politically from his open antagonism with the United States. Many Latin Americans see the United States as an economic and political bully who dictates trade terms to weaker nations: this was particularly true during the George W. Bush administration. Ever since the coup, Hugo Chávez has gone out of his way to defy the United States, establishing close ties to Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua and other nations recently unfriendly towards the US. He has often gone out of his way to rail against US imperialism, even once famously calling George Bush a “donkey.”

Administration and legacy:

Hugo Chávez is a complicated political figure who has done much for Venezuela, both good and bad. Venezuela’s oil reserves are among the largest in the world, and he has used much of the profits to benefit the poorest Venezuelans. He has improved infrastructure, education, health, literacy and other social ills from which his people suffered. Under his guidance, Venezuela has emerged as a leader in Latin America for those who do not necessarily think that the United States is always the best model to follow.

Hugo Chávez’s concern for Venezuela’s poor is genuine. The lower socioeconomic classes have rewarded Hugo Chávez with their unwavering support: they supported the new constitution and in early 2009 approved a referendum to abolish term limits on elected officials, essentially allowing him to run indefinitely.

Not everyone thinks the world of Hugo Chávez, however. Middle and upper-class Venezuelans despise him for nationalizing some of their lands and industries and have been behind the numerous attempts to oust him. Many of them fear that Hugo Chávez is building dictatorial powers, and it is true that he has a dictatorial streak in him: he has temporarily suspended Congress more than once and his 2009 referendum victory essentially allows him to be President as long as the people keep electing him.

Venezuelan elections are rarely squeaky-clean and Hugo Chávez certainly has the power to pull off any number of crooked elections, even if the people decide to stop re-electing him. He has cracked down on the press, greatly increasing restrictions as well as punishments for slander. He drove through a change in how the Supreme Court is structured, which allowed him to stack it with loyalists.

Hugo Chávez is widely reviled in the United States for his willingness to deal with rogue nations such as Iran: conservative televangelist Pat Robertson once famously called for his assassination in 2005. His hatred for the United States government occasionally seems to approach the paranoid: he has accused them of being behind any number of plots to remove or assassinate him. This irrational hatred has driven him to pursue counter-productive strategies, such as supporting Colombian rebels, publicly denouncing Israel (resulting in hate crimes against Venezuelan Jews) and spending enormous sums on Russian-built weapons and aircraft.

Venezuela’s cabinet ministers got together to pray for the recovery of President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba recovering from cancer operation.

They took part in a mass held at the presidential palace in Caracas.

Official New Year celebrations were called off on Sunday after Vice-President Nicolas Maduro announced that Hugo Chavez had suffered new complications.

The 58-year-old president is due to be sworn in for a new term on January 10th.

“The government is united, we are all praying for his health to recover so he can return to our country,” said Federal District governor Jacqueline Farias.

Elsewhere in Caracas, at the San Francis church, some 300 people attended another mass for Hugo Chavez.

Correspondents in Caracas describe the end-of-year atmosphere as subdued, yet calm.

Hugo Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, was elected in October for a fourth term in office.

Earlier this year, he said he had been cleared of a cancer diagnosed in 2011 and was fit to serve out his six-year term.

But on December 11, Hugo Chavez went through his fourth cancer operation in Cuba.

Venezuela’s cabinet ministers got together to pray for the recovery of President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba recovering from cancer operation

Venezuela’s cabinet ministers got together to pray for the recovery of President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba recovering from cancer operation

It is now three weeks since Hugo Chavez has been seen or heard from in person.

There are also many questions about what will happen on January 10, when Hugo Chavez is due to be re-inaugurated.

National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello recently said that the swearing-in ceremony would be delayed in the case of Hugo Chavez’s absence.

But the opposition says such move would be unconstitutional.

The Venezuelan constitutions states that a new election should be called in 30 days should the president not be fit enough to attend his inauguration, the opposition argues.

Vice-president Nicolas Maduro went to Cuba on Saturday to meet Hugo Chavez.

In a televised announcement from Havana on Sunday, he said that the president had “suffered new complications” and that his health state remained “delicate”.

“We have been informed of new complications that arose as a consequence of the respiratory infection we already knew about,” he said.

He added that the treatment was “not without risk.”

Following Nicolas Maduro’s announcement, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas appeared in a special programme on Venezuelan TV, calling on Venezuelans not to believe rumors about the president’s health.

Late on Sunday, Ernesto Villegas said a government-organized New Year’s Eve concert in central Caracas had been cancelled and he urged Venezuelans to pray for President Hugo Chavez.

Hugo Chavez’s career:

  • Born in 1954
  • 1992: Leads a failed coup attempt against President Carlos Perez
  • 1999: Takes office after winning election
  • 2006: Wins another six-year term as president
  • 2011: Reveals he is being treated for cancer and has two operations in Cuba
  • 2012: Has two more operations
  • October 2012: Re-elected for another term as president

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has won a fourth term in office, after opposition leader Henrique Capriles admitted defeat.

Hugo Chavez won 54% of the vote, the country’s electoral council announced, with turnout at about 81%.

Noisy celebrations among Hugo Chavez supporters erupted across the capital, Caracas, following the result.

Hugo Chavez said Venezuela would continue its march towards socialism but also vowed he would be a “better president”.

Electoral council president Tibisay Lucena announced that with 90% of votes counted Hugo Chavez had taken 54.42% of the vote with Henrique Capriles on 44.97%.

“The revolution has triumphed,” President Hugo Chavez told a cheering crowd from the balcony of the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.

“Viva Venezuela! Viva the fatherland! The battle was perfect and the victory was perfect,” he said.

However, Hugo Chavez also sounded a conciliatory note, saying he wanted to “include everybody”, adding: “I commit to being a better president than I’ve been these past few years.”

A subdued Henrique Capriles congratulated Hugo Chavez but told opposition supporters not to feel defeated.

“I want to congratulate the candidate, the president of the republic,” he said at his campaign headquarters.

He added: “We have planted many seeds across Venezuela and I know that these seeds are going to produce many trees.”

Jubilant Hugo Chavez supporters held impromptu street parties in central Caracas, blaring horns and waving flags.

“I’m celebrating with a big heart – Chavez is the hope of the people and of Latin America,” said Chavez supporter Mary Reina.

Construction worker Edgar Gonzalez said: “I can’t describe the relief and happiness I feel right now.

“The revolution will continue, thanks to God and the people of this great country.”

At the Capriles’ campaign headquarters, some opposition supporters were in tears at the news.

Henrique Capriles said he hoped Hugo Chavez would recognize that almost half the country disagreed with his policies.

Henrique Capriles said: “There’s a country that is divided and to be a good president means to work for all Venezuelans, to work for the solution of all Venezuelans’ problems.”

Hugo Chavez, 58, was diagnosed with cancer last year but says he is now fully recovered.

He has been in power since 1999 and said he needed another six-year term to continue his “Bolivarian revolution” towards socialism.

During his time in office Hugo Chavez has nationalized key sectors of the country’s economy.

Venezuela is a major oil producer and high oil prices have allowed his government to fund healthcare, education programmes and social housing.

In his campaign, Henrique Capriles, who headed a coalition of 30 opposition parties, said the president’s policies had led to bureaucracy, inefficiency and shortages.

Earlier, Defence Minister Henry Rangel Silva said the armed forces had identified some groups planning to cause public disturbances but said violence was “unlikely”.

A week before the election, three opposition activists were killed during a campaign rally, while four people were injured in a shooting during a voting rehearsal in September.

From Saturday evening to Monday evening, the sale of alcohol has been banned and only the security forces are allowed to carry arms.

Analysts say Hugo Chavez’s victory will also be welcomed by several countries in the region – including Cuba and Nicaragua – that benefit from his Petrocaribe scheme which provides Venezuelan oil at preferential rates.

He also has strong ties to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, backing Argentina’s sovereignty dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

After the election result was announced, she tweeted: “Your victory is our victory! And the victory of South America and the Caribbean!”

President Hugo Chavez’s new six-year term will begin on 10 January.

Hugo Chavez

• Born 28 July 1954 in Sabaneta, Barinas state, the son of schoolteachers

• Graduated from military academy in 1975

• Has four children

• Keen baseball player

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More than 100,000 people gathered in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, in support of opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

Henrique Capriles criticized President Hugo Chavez for what he called a long list of unfulfilled promises.

He demanded justice for three opposition activists killed during a rally in Barinas state on Saturday.

Hugo Chavez addressed large crowds in Zulia state, promising to deepen socialism.

He told his supporters it was impossible to lose the 7 October election.

Henrique Capriles said the rally was the biggest Caracas had ever seen.

“Bolivar Avenue is too small for us,” he said, referring to one of the main city streets.

He also paid tribute to the three men who had died.

“Yesterday, sadly, violence took three lives, something that should never have happened,” Henrique Capriles said, in his last major rally in the capital before the election.

“I want to tell their families, and those angels in heaven, that we are going to defeat violence on 7 October.”

The three were named as Antonio Valero, Omar Fernandez and Hector Rojas.

An initial statement by the opposition First Justice Party on Saturday night reported two deaths.

It said a rally had been planned in Barinas, President Hugo Chavez’s home state, on Saturday but the road was blocked by government supporters.

When Antonio Valero and Omar Fernandez left their car to try to gain access, they were fired on by gunmen inside a van, it said.

“This tragedy gives us more strength and faith to fight for a Venezuela where justice and non-violence reign,” the First Justice Party said.

Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said in a message on Twitter that a suspect in the killings had already been arrested.

Hugo Chavez and Henrique Capriles are wrapping up their campaigns over the next few days.

Addressing tens of thousands of people in the town of Cabimas in the western Zulia state, President Chavez said he regretted the deaths and called for calm.

“It’s not with violence that we face off. It’s with votes, ideas, peace, so let’s not fall into provocations,” he said, quoted by Reuters news agency.

There have been other incidents of violence on the campaign trail. Supporters of both candidates threw stones at each other earlier this month when Henrique Capriles attempted to march through the city of Puerto Cabello.

And four people were injured in a shooting that erupted during a voting rehearsal at the beginning of September.

With violent crime a key concern for voters, there are fears that further violence could erupt in what has become Venezuela’s closest fought election in over a decade.

Hugo Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, was diagnosed with cancer last year.

More than 30 opposition parties have backed Henrique Capriles as a single candidate to challenge the leftist president.

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Two opposition politicians have been killed in Venezuela during a campaign rally, a week before the country’s presidential election.

Geison Valero belonged to the opposition party First Justice and Omar Fernandez was an independent.

The First Justice party said they were campaigning for opposition leader Henrique Capriles in Barinas state when gunmen shot them dead.

Witnesses said the vehicle belonged to the state oil company PDVSA.

But there has been no confirmation of this from the Venezuelan authorities.

A statement by the party said a rally had been planned in Barinas, President Hugo Chavez’s home state, but the road was blocked by government supporters.

When the two men left their car to try to gain access, they were fired on by gunmen inside a van, it said.

Hugo Chavez and Henrique Capriles are wrapping up their campaigns over the next few days ahead of the 7 October elections.

There have been other incidents of violence on the campaign trail. Supporters of both candidates threw stones at each other earlier this month when Henrique Capriles attempted to march through the city of Puerto Cabello.

And four people were injured in a shooting that erupted during a voting rehearsal at the beginning of September.

With violent crime a key concern for voters, there are fears that further violence could erupt in what has become Venezuela’s closest fought election in over a decade.

Hugo Chavez has been in power since 1999, but was diagnosed with cancer last year.

More than 30 opposition parties have backed a single candidate, Henrique Capriles, to challenge the leftist president.

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President Hugo Chavez has ordered an urgent investigation to find the cause of a huge explosion at Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery.

The death toll after the blast at the Amuay plant in Falcon state, in the north-west of the country, has now risen to 39, with more than 80 others injured.

Hugo Chavez declared three days of national mourning.

Earlier, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said a gas leak had caused the blast.

Hugo Chavez said the tragedy had touched all families in the country.

The death toll after the blast at the Amuay plant in Falcon state, in the north-west of the country, has now risen to 39, with more than 80 others injured

The death toll after the blast at the Amuay plant in Falcon state, in the north-west of the country, has now risen to 39, with more than 80 others injured

“I want to send out to the families of those who died, civilians and military, all our pain, mine, that of all my family, everyone in the national government and the people of Venezuela,” he said.

“It has been decided to have three days of mourning, national mourning because this affects everyone in the big family of Venezuela.”

Venezuelan Vice-President Elias Jaua said 18 of the victims were members of the National Guard stationed at the plant.

Another 15 were civilians, and six bodies remain unidentified, he said.

Venezuelan authorities say the worst is over and the fire is now under control.

Amuay, on the Paraguana peninsula, is part of the Paraguana Refinery Complex, which also includes the Cardon refinery.

It is one of the biggest refinery complexes in the world with an overall capacity of 955,000 barrels per day, Reuters news agency notes.

The accident has halted operations at the refinery, but Rafael Ramirez said he expected production to be resumed by Monday.

Rafael Ramirez said that Venezuela had enough fuel supplies to guarantee continued exports and domestic supply.

The blast occurred at 01:11 on Saturday.

It unleashed a huge fire that destroyed two fuel tanks and stopped production at the plant.

“The gas cloud exploded, igniting at least two storage tanks and other facilities at the refinery,” the energy minister told state TV.

“It was a significant explosion, there is appreciable damage to infrastructure and to houses opposite the refinery,” said Rafael Ramirez.

Falcon State Governor Stella Lugo said nearby houses had been damaged by the blast.

Local resident Nelly da Lugo said it would be too dangerous for her family to remain in the area:

“PDVSA (Venezuela’s government-run oil company) should buy all of these houses and get us out of this community because we are at a very high risk here.”

Venezuela has the world’s biggest certified oil reserves.

But critics blame under investment by the state-controlled oil company for a decline in production and safety standards.

Refineries have suffered from a long list of problems including power failures and accidents.

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Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has unveiled a 3-D reconstruction of the face of Simon Bolivar, who died in 1830 after leading the fight against Spanish colonial rule in the region.

The computer-generated image was created by artists studying Simon Bolivar’s remains.

It looks remarkably like known portraits of the South American liberation hero.

Two years ago Hugo Chavez ordered that the remains should be exhumed.

Simon Bolivar was widely thought to have died from tuberculosis aged 47.

But Hugo Chavez had a theory that Simon Bolivar had been poisoned in revenge for his fight against the Spanish empire.

Forensic tests were inconclusive.

Hugo Chavez has unveiled a 3-D reconstruction of the face of Simon Bolivar

Hugo Chavez has unveiled a 3-D reconstruction of the face of Simon Bolivar

The 3-D image was unveiled at Miraflores presidential palace in the capital, Caracas, on the 229th anniversary of Simon Bolivar’s birth.

“Bolivar is the fight that does not end, he is born every day in ourselves, in his people, in the children, in the fight for life and for social justice,” said Hugo Chavez, a big admirer of the Venezuelan-born national hero.

“He was, is and will be one of the greats of humanity, a true giant of the human cause.”

Simon Bolivar’s remains will reside in a new mausoleum built in central Caracas. It was built with marble imported from South Africa and cost around $78 million.

Many cities in South America have monuments honoring the man known as The Liberator.

He began his fight against the Spanish empire in the early 1800s and after independence became the president of Gran Colombia, which covers much of modern Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador and northern Peru.

A few years later, the Republic of Bolivia was created. Simon Bolivar became one of the few men to have a country named after h

President Hugo Chavez’s fascination with Simon Bolivar has been evident throughout his presidency.

In 1999, within a year of taking power he changed the country’s name from plain “Venezuela” to “the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”.

Hugo Chavez claims to be a political successor to Simon Bolivar, who fought for the establishment of a democratic state for people in South America.

President Hugo Chavez says his form of socialism is a continuation of these principles.

He may not be too impressed by the news that his opponent in this year’s elections, Henrique Capriles, is allegedly related to Simon Bolivar.

A Venezuelan genealogist claims Henrique Capriles is the descendent of Simon Bolivar’s illegitimate brother Juan Agustin.