Current Event Connection: Hugo Chavez Dies


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies
This interactive timeline explains the life and legacy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a pioneering and controversial leader who died on March 5.

Hugo Chavez, right, stands united with fellow South American leaders Fernando Lugo  (Paraguay), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil), and Rafael Correa (Ecuador).Photograph courtesy Agencia Brasil
Hugo Chavez, right, stands united with fellow South American leaders Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil), and Rafael Correa (Ecuador).
Photograph courtesy Agencia Brasil

Discussion ideas:

  • Read the relevant parts of our encyclopedic entry on South America: Human Geography. (Information on Chavez is on page 3, under “Contemporary Issues”.) Hugo Chavez was wildly popular with poor and working-class Venezuelans, but resented by the wealthy. Why? How do politicians balance the needs and desires of different segments of the population?
  • As outlined in the encyclopedic entry, Chavez was a vocal critic of the Copenhagen Accord, an international agreement to limit carbon emissions. He claims developed countries such as the United States created their industries and infrastructure in the 20th century, without concern for carbon emissions. The Copenhagen Accord, he said, is unfair to developing countries (such as Venezuela) that would face the challenges of development with greater responsibilities. How do students balance concerns for the environment with economic opportunity?
  • Chavez was part of a group of South American leaders who considered themselves “rebels” against the legacy of colonialism in Latin America. Who are some other “rebel” Latin American leaders who have an uneasy relationship with the United States and other Western nations? (Fidel Castro (former president of Cuba), Evo Morales (president of Bolivia), Rafael Correa (president of Ecuador), Daniel Ortega (president of Nicaragua) How would students approach diplomatic negotiations with these leaders? Read our encyclopedic entry on diplomacy to better understand what diplomats do.
  • Venezuela has some of the largest proven oil reserves in the world. Chavez nationalized some assets of the gas and oil industries, and was generous in supplying developing nations in the Caribbean and even the U.S. He used oil income to fund social programs, such as schools and hospitals, but re-invested very little in expanding the oil industry further. As a result, Venezuela’s oil industry is dwindling and the country must import refined petroleum. Do you think Chavez’s successor will re-develop Venezuela’s oil industry? How? If students were advisers to the new president (to be elected within the next 30 days), what issues would they ask him or her to consider when faced with this question—the environment? social programs? economic growth?

Note: We’re experimenting with a new feature here on the NG Education Blog. “Current Event Connection” posts will connect educators with news stories and relevant discussion ideas featuring content from the NG Education website. 


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