Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, has died, losing his battle to cancer after most recently winning re-election in October 2012.

He was first elected in 1998, gathering massive popular support from people frustrated and marginalized by the hold of elites onto political and economic power. He advanced a political platform intended to improve conditions for the poor and address the wealth inequalities in this oil-rich country. In 1999, he ushered in changes to the constitution which greatly expanded human rights protections, including for women and Indigenous Peoples.

He also took an oppositional stance to the US, standing against the “war on terror” policies that triggered the attacks on Afghanistan and countering the economic sway of the US in Latin America. He was one of the leaders who helped to launch the Bank of the South (Bancosur), as an alternative to the World Bank and IMF.

As Venezuela navigates through this political transition, MADRE stands in support of activists and social movements on the ground, who will continue to advance human rights until they are enjoyed by all people in Venezuela and throughout the region.

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