Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 58 years old.
After his election in 1998, Chávez became known around the globe for railing against the United States, nationalizing parts of his country’s vast oil reserves, and focusing his nation’s spending on the poor. These pictures capture some of the key themes of his presidency. (National Geographic archive: Why Chávez mattered.)
Photograph by Leo Ramirez, AFP/Getty Images
Chávez is seen on a TV screen during an event with oil workers in Caracas in 2008. He was celebrating state-owned oil company PDVSA’s victory over Exxon Mobil in a global dispute over an oil project that Venezuela had seized.
Photograph by David Fernandez, European Pressphoto Agency
An oil pipeline in Venezuela bears the president’s name. Chávez used oil revenues to fuel socialist policies.
Photograph by Piet den Blanken, Hollandse Hoogte/Redux
Hugo and Fidel
Chávez is pictured with Cuban President Fidel Castro. The socialist and communist leaders grew to be close friends, with Chávez spending months in Cuba receiving cancer treatments in the lead-up to his death.
Photograph by Juan Seoane, Archivo Latino/Redux
Chávez rides through a crowd with Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2007. The two were announcing that money from Venezuelan oil would fund a huge power plant in Bolivia.
Photograph by Jorge Abrego, European Pressphoto Agency
Spending generously on his nation’s poor, Chávez built a political support base. Barrio Esperanza rings the high-rise prosperity of downtown Caracas.
Photograph by Meredith Davenport, National Geographic
Everywhere a Face
Chávez’s face seemed to be everywhere in Venezuela. An artist copies a portrait of Chávez in Caracas earlier this year, at a time when the leader had vanished from public view as he battled cancer.
Photograph by Raul Arboleda, AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan National Guard officers patrol a street after clashes with protesters opposed to Chávez’s rule in 2004. Last October, the leader had been elected to a fourth term.
Photograph by Chico Sanchez, European Pressphoto Agency
Chávez is pictured at the presidential palace in Caracas in 2010.
Photograph by Ben Speck, Getty Images
An undated family photo shows a young Chávez.
Photograph from Miraflores Press Office via AP
Chávez raises his arms at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas in 2011 after returning from weeks of medical treatment in Cuba.