July 28, 1954
Hugo Chavez is born in Sabaneta, a town in Venezuela's Barinas State.
Sabaneta in a larger map
Jan. 1, 1975
Chavez graduates from the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences.
Feb. 4, 1992
Chavez leads soldiers in an attempted coup against the Venezuelan government. After loyalist troops arrest Chavez and his fellow officers, President Carlos Andres Perez says the group intended to assassinate him and impose a "bloody dictatorship."
Leader of the Bolivarian Revolution 2000, Hugo Chavez, talks to reporters at the Defense Ministry after he surrendered to the troops loyal to Carlos Andres Perez.
(Ali Gomez / AP Photo)
Jan. 1, 1994
Chavez is pardoned by then-president Rafael Caldera and freed from prison.
Dec. 6, 1998
Gen. Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan national hero and liberator of South America, once lamented that the nations of the continent were "condemned to oscillate between anarchy and tyranny."
Venezuela has fought off tyranny for 40 years, clinging to a boisterous democracy while its neighbors suffered under dictatorships.
Yet today, Venezuela has come close to anarchy. Its oil-dependent economy is in shambles. The credibility of political parties has crumbled. A large and larcenous bureaucracy has crippled schools, hospitals and other public services. The streets are full of fear and rage.
That rage propels the populist presidential candidacy of former Col. Hugo Chavez, the man who would be Bolivar, a self-described "citizen-soldier" with a startling resume. Six years ago, Chavez led the tanks that rammed the doors of the presidential palace in a bloody attempted coup.
Opinion polls and the results of recent legislative elections make Chavez the favorite to win today's presidential election.
Dec. 6, 1998
Chavez is elected president of Venezuela in a stunning blow to the political and economic establishment that has ruled the country for decades, appealing to the downtrodden with his revolutionary rhetoric about liberating Venezuela from predatory elites and "savage" free-market economics.
Presidential candidate Hugo Chavez at his party headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela Saturday, Dec. 5, 1998.
(Jose Caruci / AP Photo)
Sept. 1, 1999
The crowd at the hospital went wild when the president arrived.
They broke through the phalanx of soldiers in red berets, calling his name, pushing letters at him, rushing him with such fervor that the first lady was shaken up in the crush and retreated to the motorcade.
President Hugo Chavez -- a boxily built ex-athlete sporting a blue suit and the easy smile of a working man among working people -- kept going. He marched down newly painted hallways that his administration had swept clean of rubbish, the evidence of a neglect and corruption so scandalous that the hospital's top floor had lacked running water for 15 years.
Dec. 15, 1999
Venezuelans overwhelmingly approve a constitution that eliminates the Senate and vastly increases the power of President Hugo Chavez, allowing him to stay in office for up to 13 years.
President Hugo Chavez with his wife Marisabel Chavez, shakes hands with supporters after voting on a proposed constitution.
(Alvaro Hernandez/AP Photo)
July 30, 2000
Venezuelans endorse President Hugo Chavez's "peaceful revolution" by electing the charismatic populist to a six-year term and giving his party and its coalition partners a majority in the national legislature.
The results represent a resounding victory for Chavez, 46, who was seeking endorsement of the profound political changes he has engineered during a whirlwind 18 months in office.
Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hand out sample ballots in Caracas.
(Roberto Candia / AP Photo)
Feb. 9, 2002
President Hugo Chavez faces his most serious challenge since coming to power, after a week of tumultuous protests that spurred calls for his removal from civic leaders, military officials and ordinary folks.
Coup rumors have surged, and blood-red graffiti calling for Chavez's death have popped up on the sides of major highways. The mayor of Caracas even asks the Roman Catholic Church to conduct an exorcism of the former coup leader.
"He has demons in his body and is making a hell of everything," says Alfredo Pena, the Caracas leader who has emerged as Chavez's most strident, and colorful, critic. He adds: "The street is going to take Chavez out. He is an autocrat."
A populist who has seen his popularity plummet in recent months, Chavez responds to the unrest by launching sharp rhetorical attacks against his opponents that have deeply divided the country.
April 11, 2002
Venezuela's top generals declare themselves in rebellion against President Hugo Chavez, and tanks roll through the streets after a day of protests against the government that leave at least 10 people dead. Chavez resigns as president a day later and is placed under arrest by his former military allies.
Venezuelan police try to control demonstrators in Caracas on April 10, during the second day of a national strike.
April 14, 2002
Free after 48 hours under military arrest, President Hugo Chavez retakes control of Venezuela. He says he will seek "national reconciliation," but he also holds his chief opponent in custody and hints at "corrective action" against the media that supported last week's attempt to oust him.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is greeted by supporters upon his return to the presidential palace in Caracas.
(Rodrigo Arangua AFP Photo)
April 22, 2002
The president bade farewell to his honor guard, young men armed with semiautomatic rifles who wept because Hugo Chavez was leaving, seemingly forever. The soldiers wanted to fight, to turn the Miraflores palace into a bunker against their enemies, but the president wouldn't let them.
"Your lives are just beginning," Chavez said, according to his later account.
At that moment on the night of April 11, it appeared that Chavez's three-year reign as Venezuela's strongman president was over. The country's richest business leaders, its largest labor confederation, its top military men and its most influential media had all joined forces against him. They had Chavez cornered. And he knew it.
Slightly more than two days after he was driven from office, Hugo Chavez staged the most lightning-fast political resurrection in modern Latin American history.
Dec. 7, 2002
The nation comes to the brink of its most serious political crisis since the April coup. Gun-wielding attackers open fire on a crowded square that has become the heart of the movement opposing President Hugo Chavez, killing three people and bringing chaos and terror to protests against the controversial leader. Striking oil workers cripple the state oil company.
Jan. 4, 2003
Maeca Lopez used to have a comfortable life. She owned an art gallery, dabbled in painting and had a circle of friends who volunteered for charities.
Now, the widow and mother of two is at war with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. She sold her business. She goes to political meetings to plot his ouster. And she leads a group of women who show up at every march with gas masks and manicured nails.
No matter what happens to Chavez, he has already assured himself this legacy: He has managed to awaken the political consciousness of a nation where politics were once a distant realm populated only by the rich and powerful.
March 24, 2003
Henrique Salas says he is just trying to inject hope into a shattered economy and a divided society.
The second-place finisher in this country's presidential election five years ago, Salas has saturated the television airwaves in recent days with a reminder that he predicted trouble ahead with the victory of President Hugo Chavez.
"Now it's time to look ahead. Lift your eye up to the skies," Salas says in the 30-second spot, staring into the camera and flashing a toothy grin.
The advertisement -- which Salas insists is not a political ad -- is the latest sign that Venezuela's opposition is crumbling after a failed two-month national strike to oust Chavez from power.
Sept. 17, 2003
You can see two worlds from this shambles of misery that creeps up the mountain.
The first is the neighborhood itself. Crude cinder-block houses lurch up the slope. The streets are tight -- some no wider than the span of a man's arms. Contaminated water courses down homemade canals. It's loud, dirty and cramped here.
The second lies in the valley below. Skyscrapers owned by multinationals soar in neat bundles. The colonial-era Congress building gleams white. The broad avenues of the rich in the east chug with traffic -- symbols of power and wealth throbbing in the distance.
The first world belongs to Maria Lopez. The second, to her dreams.
Dec. 1, 2003
Members of the political opposition claim success on the final day of an effort to gather signatures to recall President Hugo Chavez, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown.
Aug. 15, 2004
He shed his colonel's uniform a dozen years ago, but Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has waged his latest campaign to stay in power with the determination and strategic plotting of a battle-hardened field marshal.
He has hurled legal and electoral salvos at the enemy -- opponents seeking to recall him in a nationwide referendum today. He has roused his forces -- the army of poor that conscripts 70% of Venezuelans. A man who led one unsuccessful coup and survived another, Chavez remains first and foremost a man ready to fight.
On the eve of the vote that will either validate his troubled presidency or remove him from power, and could ignite violence in this deeply divided country, the 50-year-old former paratrooper laid out his nearly six-year legacy in an exclusive interview with The Times as if briefing his troops for battle.
Aug. 16, 2004
President Hugo Chavez convincingly survives a recall effort, ending more than two years of attempts to eject him from office in a vote that international observers deemed free and fair. On a balcony at the Miraflores presidential palace, where hundreds of his supporters were gathered for a celebration as the results were announced, Chavez proclaims, "The Venezuelan people have spoken, and the people's voice is the voice of God!"
May 21, 2005
The case of pro-democracy activist Maria Corina Machado, who is scheduled to go to court next month on charges of treason and conspiracy, illustrates just how far the U.S. image has fallen in the nine months since President Hugo Chavez defeated a recall effort.
The act of treason Machado allegedly committed? Her human rights organization accepted $31,000 from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy for voter education workshops before the divisive August recall referendum.
Relations between Washington and the leftist Venezuelan president, who has declared a "revolution for the poor" against what he calls Yankee imperialist oppression, have never been smooth. But since he defeated the recall effort, Chavez has become even more antagonistic, using profanity in describing President Bush and making vulgar suggestions for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after she described him as a threat to the stability of the region.
Sept. 13, 2005
With oil prices near record highs and a U.S.-backed free-trade pact for the Western Hemisphere on hold, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is offering cash-strapped Caribbean countries affordable fuel, debt relief and anti-poverty funding.
Thirteen countries have signed on to Chavez's PetroCaribe initiative, which some leaders say is an attempt by the Venezuelan populist to boost his influence in a region where his nemesis, the United States, has long been the main trading partner.
Nov. 6, 2005
As he does every Sunday afternoon for hours on end, President Hugo Chavez was holding forth to a captive television camera, by turns singing, taking calls, chumming it up with deferential guests and launching broadsides at domestic and foreign foes.
This time, the foe was otherworldly: Halloween ghosts and goblins.
Not surprisingly, he was referring to American ghosts and goblins, their seemingly harmless costumes merely a disguise for what the burly, loquacious Venezuelan president labeled cultural "terrorism."
April 16, 2006
Jorge Perez spends his Saturdays learning about first aid, firing automatic weapons and marching in formation alongside students, homemakers and the disabled, often to good-natured shouts of "Yankees out!" and "Kill that gringo!"
The 39-year-old chauffeur, a self-professed patriot and partisan of President Hugo Chavez, said he joined Venezuela's new Territorial Guards volunteer militia to protect his homeland in case the United States "invades us like it did Grenada and Panama."
The militia was created last fall by a law that placed it directly under Chavez's authority, bypassing the military command structure. The new force, combined with a general military buildup that has included purchases of arms, aircraft and naval vessels, is a source of increasing concern to the United States.
Sept. 20, 2006
Chavez calls President George W. Bush "the devil" and pronounces the United Nations "worthless" in a fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks to reporters and others outside the United Nations after he spoke during the 61st General Assembly session.
(Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
Dec. 3, 2006
Chavez is resoundingly reelected, setting the scene for a promised "deepening" of his socialist revolution.
Dec. 2, 2007
Venezuelan voters defeat a package of constitutional reforms that could have indefinitely extended President Chavez's grip on power, his first electoral loss in nine years at the helm.
Members of Venezuela's opposition celebrate at their headquarters in the capital after hearing that President Hugo Chavez suffered a defeat in a vote on constitutional changes that would have let him run for reelection indefinitely.
(Howard Yanes / Associated Press)
June 8, 2008
Bowing to popular pressure, Chavez says he will rescind a new intelligence law that critics say would have forced citizens to spy on one another and would have moved the country toward a police state.
Feb. 15, 2009
Venezuelan voters give Chavez a resounding victory on a constitutional amendment that will allow him to run for reelection indefinitely. Chavez framed the vote as crucial to making his socialist Bolivarian Revolution permanent.
Supporters cheer the amendment's passage. "Chavez is the first president who cared about the poor, who truly loves his country and its people," says one voter.
(Ariana Cubillos / Associated Press)
July 22, 2009
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made moves to tighten government control over national media, say critics who warn that the Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter could be his next target.
Dec. 17, 2010
Venezuela's National Assembly overwhelmingly approves a law giving Chavez broad discretionary powers for 18 months, a measure that opponents claim is meant to undercut their strength in an upcoming assembly session. The law gives Chavez power to govern by decree for the fourth time since he took office in 1999 and is necessary, he said, to deal with disastrous flooding.
June 30, 2011
In a brief recorded statement read over Venezuelan television, President Chavez says he had surgery in Cuba for cancer, confirming the gravity of his illness.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, right, with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba.
Oct. 7, 2012
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wins reelection, with allegiance among poor voters to his socialist revolution trumping dissatisfaction with a stunted economy, rising crime and the increasing polarization of society.
Supporters of President Hugo Chavez celebrate in Caracas after polls close. Poor and working-class voters were solidly behind him.
(Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo)
Dec. 11, 2012
Chavez undergoes cancer surgery for the fourth time in Cuba. The lack of details about his condition adds to the uncertainty in Venezuela.
A woman holds an image of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during a demonstration in support of him at the Simon Bolivar square in Caracas, Venezuela.
(Fernando Llano/AP Photo)
Jan. 9, 2013
Venezuela's Supreme Court rules unanimously that cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez does not have to take the oath of office as scheduled to begin his fourth term as president, a finding that some legal experts assail as unconstitutional. Vice President Nicolas Maduro is placed in charge as Chavez remains in Cuba after surgery.
Feb. 18, 2013
Ending a 10-week absence from Venezuela for cancer treatment, Chavez returns from Cuba. Official word of his return to Caracas comes over his Twitter account.
March 5, 2013
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a barrel-chested former paratrooper who tapped his nation's oil wealth to deliver social welfare programs for the impoverished masses, dies at a Caracas military hospital where he was moved last month after a 10-week stay in Cuba for cancer treatment, Vice President Nicolas Maduro tells national television. He was 58.
Read The Times' obituary:
President Hugo Chavez, hero to Venezuela's poor, is dead
Chavez is seen in September 2012.
(David Fernandez / EPA)