He came from humble beginnings - from among the teeming millions in Venezuelan poverty - and joined the army as much to make a living as to serve the people.
He and a group of mid-level military officers staged an unsuccessful coup in February 1992 against the corrupt regime of President Carlos Andres Perez.
In 4 years, the man who led the coup would be elected President, and Hugo Chávez would proclaim Venezuela as home of the revolution of the Latin American Liberator Simon Bolivar who fought and prevailed against Spanish colonialists for Latin American independence early in the 19th century.
For Chávez, Venezuelan independence meant economic independence, to use the vast natural wealth of the nation to better the crippling poverty experienced by millions in the barrios. He did so, to the howls of the rich elites and foreign investors.
In 2002, rich elites (with U.S. support) staged a coup against Chávez, but it was short-lived, for within 3 days Chávez was once again in control, buoyed by the support of the swirling masses of Caracas, who saved his life, his presidency, and his vision.
The People saved Chávez, and he worked tirelessly to save and better their lives. Having escaped death, Commandante-Presidente Hugo Chávez gave his life to the socialist cause, and devoted the revenues from Venezuela’s oil wealth to creating a more egalitarian society.
For over 13 years, he worked to deepen the Bolivarian Revolution, and he saw a leftist tide sweep through Latin America.
Hugo Chávez, who survived coups and counter-coups, lost his final battle to cancer.
Hugo Chávez was 58.