Politician Hugo Rafael Chavez Frías was president of Venezuela from 1999 until 2013. He led the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007. The party later joined many other parties to form the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which Chavez led until 2012. The leader died on March 5, 2013 at the age of 58, bringing an end to the adventurous life of one of Latin America’s most staggering personalities. Here are some of the lesser known facts about El Comandante:
1. In 1992, Chavez was arrested for plotting a coup. He demanded to wear his lieutenant colonel's uniform in the two years when he was in jail.
2. His parents were both teachers, and Chavez was raised in a dirt-floor adobe that was bulldozed later and replaced with a hamburger stand.
3. He used to drink at least 26 cups of coffee a day.
4. In June 2009, Chávez banned Coke Zero declaring the low-calorie cola was unhealthy.
5. In October of 2005, Chavez during his weekly TV and radio showAló President vowed to ban Halloween. He called the holiday an “imperialist terror”part of the American tradition which “puts fear into other nations, puts fear into their own people.”
6. Chavez was a lifelong baseball fan. He threw the ceremonial first pitch at Shea Stadium during a 1999 visit to the U.S. shortly after being elected president.
7. He didn’t like golf and in July 2009, he called the game “a bourgeois sport” and quoted golf carts as testament of players’ laziness. His loyalists called for two major golf courses in the country to be shut down. The argument was the several poor people were coerced to live in slums due to the maintenance of the grounds.
8. He wasn’t a fan of capitalism and in his speech on World Water Day 2011, he argued that it was responsible for ending life on Mars.
9. At the time of his death, Chavez had more than 4 million followers on his social networking handle. He gifted a new apartment to his three millionth follower.
10. He was a huge admirer of Latin American lefty Fidel Castro. Chavez joined a quartet to sing “Happy Birthday” on the occasion of the Cuban revolutionary’s 75th birthday.