Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías
) is the current
. As the leader of the "
," Chávez promotes his
. He is also an ardent critic of
A career military officer, Chávez founded the
Fifth Republic Movement
after orchestrating a failed
1992 coup d'état
against former President
. Chávez was
elected President in 1998
on promises of aiding
Venezuela's poor majority, and was
reelected in 2000
Chávez has launched
, whose goals are to combat disease,
illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty, and other social ills. Abroad, Chávez has acted
by supporting alternative models of
, and has advocated cooperation among the world's
poor nations, especially those in Latin America.
Chávez's reforms have evoked exceptional controversy in Venezuela and
abroad, receiving both
and praise. Venezuelans are split between
those who say he has empowered the poor and stimulated economic growth,
and those who say he is autocratic and has mismanaged the economy.
foreign governments view Chávez as a threat to global oil prices and regional
while others sympathize with his ideology
or welcome his bilateral
trade and reciprocal aid agreements.
In 2005 and 2006 he was named one of
100 most influential
Economic Policy Venezuela is a major producer of oil products, which remain
the keystone of the Venezuelan economy. Chávez has gained a reputation as a
price hawk in
, pushing for stringent enforcement of production quotas
and higher target oil prices. At a June 2006 meeting, Venezuela was the only
OPEC country calling for lowered production to drive oil prices higher. Industry
analysts say Venezuela wants lower quotas because, under Chávez's
administration, the output of
Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.
state-owned oil company, has been reduced by 25% and Venezuela cannot
meet its current quota.