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Venezuela’s political prospects changed in 1999 when Hugo Chavez became president.

Starting his presidency, Chavez created a new constitution for Venezuela, and the country’s

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name was changed to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Since then, the country had a

total change as it underwent a system of socialism, as the oil company and many other private

businesses were nationalized. In this socialist system, revenues generated from the oil industry

were invested in social programs to help the country’s poorer population. On the other hand,

Chavez confiscated many properties from those of the middle and upper class, transferring

them to state ownership, and also created animosity with other nations, defying them in many

ways. These acts were harmful to the wealthy population in Venezuela but beneficial to the

poor. As a result, Chavez was praised by the poor who considered him a hero, while the wealthy

Venezuelans and some critics (in other countries) despised him, deeming him a villain. Which

group of people is right about their assumptions? Was Chavez a hero or a villain?

Supporters of Chavismo— the term popularly used to refer to Chavez’s socialist

policies— adore the system of socialism, and strongly proclaim that it is the best system

compared to others. However, this sentiment has been refuted by others. In a CNN News article

earlier this year, Roger Noriega, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, states that Chavez

was a complete villain as he destroyed the economy and consolidated all power in his hands.

He destroyed the democratic institutions in the country and left the Venezuelan democracy in

a worse situation than before, Noriega claims. In addition, he states that “[Chavez] w…

… regard were an impressive feat that no Arab leader, dictator was ever

able to accomplish (qtd. in Young). Chavez is beloved by his supporters that even after his death

they continue to admire him. For instance, Nicolas Maduro is quoted in a Trinidad and Tobago

news blog saying that “Those who die for life cannot be called dead, Chavez lives, the battle

continues.” He adds: “Honor and glory to Hugo Chavez, May he live forever.”

Hugo Chavez made history in his country as well as worldwide, for both his his so called

good and bad deeds. People around the world differ in their perspectives on his legacy, having

their own definition for his deeds. It is clear that President Hugo Chavez was a complicated

public figure who did much for Venezuela, and people need to carefully examine those facts

before branding him with a name tag of either hero or Villain.

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