In a decade in power since he was first elected on December 6 1998, Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez has presided over a seismic shift in his country’s political, social and economic landscape. But with the gap between his achievements and his tub-thumping rhetoric becoming increasingly evident, can he sustain his grip on popular support?
Part one: Bolivarian Bravado
Hugo Chávez has enjoyed a vintage year for anti-American invective. As some of Wall Street’s most celebrated institutions came crashing down, the Venezuelan president predicted that the crisis would “put an end to the evil capitalist model”. But with the value of Venezuelan oil falling, many are asking whether his “Bolivarian revolution” is facing its own cash crunch.
Although Hugo Chávez calls his creed “21st century socialism”, a new breed of Venezuelan business magnates who enjoy close relations with his government have been flourishing.
Part three: Chávez gambles on the poor to strengthen grip
A week after regional elections in which some big urban centres fell into opposition hands, Venezuela’s tireless leader was back on the campaign trail campaigning for a referendum on a constitutional amendment eliminating presidential term limits. Success will require the active support of his core constituency: the poor.
Part four: Venezuela’s foreign policy loses its gas
By some estimates Venezuela has committed to more than $30bn in spending on supporting like-minded governments in the region, but as oil prices decline the country may struggle to fulfil its ambitious spending plans
Ten years in pictures