News, Politics

Hugo Chávez, President Of Venezuela, Remembered For Social Reforms

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Image: José Cruz/ABr
Chavez is seen here waving to a crowd in Brazil, 2006. Image: José Cruz/ABr

Hugo Chávez, the charismatic president of Venezuela, died on Tuesday. He was 58.

Chávez had been the president of the South American country since 1998.

Chávez grew up in a very poor family. He dreamed of becoming a baseball player, but instead he studied at a military academy and then joined the army.

As a student and a soldier, Chávez read many books and became interested in politics and the problems affecting poor people in Venezuela. He believed that the people running the government at the time were dishonest, and were taking money that should have been used to help the whole country.

Eventually, Chávez became a teacher at the same military academy where he had studied. He taught his new political ideas to his students.

Many of his students, as well as many other soldiers and civilians, agreed with Chávez. They formed a group called the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200). In February 1992, Chávez led the group in an attempt to take over the government by force. They were stopped by the army and Chávez was arrested.

He spent two years in prison. When he was released, he decided to go into politics. In 1998, Chávez ran for president and was elected.

As president, he introduced a number of changes to help the poor people of Venezuela, such as providing them with free medical care and affordable food.

His reforms were very popular among poor and middle-class Venezuelans, but not everyone agreed with his ideas. In 2002, the army tried to take over the government. They held Chávez prisoner for three days, but hundreds of thousands of people gathered to protest, and he was returned to power.

Many foreign governments, including the United States, also disagreed with the way Chávez did things.

One of Venezuela’s greatest natural resources is oil, which it sells to many other countries, including the United States. When Chavez became president, he took control of some internationally owned companies that were producing oil in Venezuela and used the money to pay for his social programs. He also tried to oppose the amount of influence the United States government has over Latin American countries.

Chávez was elected president four times, for a total of 14 years. The last time he was elected was in October 2012.

The cause of his death has not been officially announced, although he was undergoing treatment for cancer.

The constitution of Venezuela calls for an election in the next 30 days; it is not yet known who will replace Chávez.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Any political leader will have people who agree with his or her policies and people who disagree with them. Chávez had supporters but he also had people who didn’t support him. The story tells you a bit about both points of view regarding Hugo Chávez. Create a T-chart and list things people liked and disliked about him.

Reading Prompt: Reading Unfamiliar Words
The first sentence describes Hugo  Chávez as “charismatic.” This may be a word you are unfamiliar with. What do you think it might mean? Now, look it up in a dictionary or ask an adult what it means. Did it mean what you thought it did?

Junior & Intermediate
P
redict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: semantic (meaning) cues (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, base words, phrases, sentences, and visuals that activate existing knowledge of oral and written language)(OME, Reading: 3.2).

Grammar Feature: Introductory material
Often writers include an introduction to their sentences to give them context and to add information. When an author writes an introduction at the beginning of their sentence, they use a comma to separate it from the rest of the sentence. For example, the italicized words in the sentence below are the introduction and are seperated from the rest of the sentence by a comma.

As a student and a soldier, Chávez read many books and became interested in politics and the problems affecting poor people in Venezuela.

Tip: You can tell if a sentence has an introduction, if, when you read it, it still makes sense without the first portion.  

Place a comma in the sentences below between the introduction and the rest of the sentence. Check your answers by finding the examples in today’s article.

1. In February 1992 Chávez led the group in an attempt to take over the government by force. They were stopped by the army and Chávez was arrested.

2. As president he introduced a number of changes to help the poor people of Venezuela, such as providing them with free medical care and affordable food.

3. When Chavez became president he took control of some internationally owned companies that were producing oil in Venezuela and used the money to pay for his social programs.