Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died in Caracas Tuesday (March 5) after a long battle with cancer. The former paratroop commander was known for his fiery spirit. He was 58-years old.
Chavez was a fighter and during the 14 years that he held office, his radical individualist approach to politics empowered the poor. He often referred to himself as a "humble soldier", he battled for socialist ideas that he believed in. His booming voice and style of leadership gained him popularity among the less fortunate.
As the Associated Press reports, Chavez came into public view in 1992 as a paratroop commander leading a military rebellion. During a televised statement when the coup collapsed, Chavez declared that his movement had failed "for now." It was that speech and the defiance in his words that helped to launch his political career.
Prior to his battle with cancer, he would appear frequently on television and deliver speeches that would last for hours. He would often dress in military fatigues and a red beret in a similar fashion to when he was in the army.
Other times, he would wear the color of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela, bright red. Chavez considered himself to be Simon Bolivar reincarnated, the leader who was responsible for leading much of South America to independence. He believed he was Bolivar's heir and even owned replicas of Bolivar's swords which he would present to his allies.
Chavez was a man who considered himself a revolutionary and was self-described as "subversive". In an interview with the Associated Press in 2007, "I'm still a subversive. I think the entire world has to be subverted," said Chavez as he remembered his rebel soldier days.
Chavez served as a central figure to many people who felt excluded. His death surely bears heavy on the hearts of those who often felt marginalized, as the Venezuelan nation tries to move forward.