Popular with his fellow soldiers, Chávez (left) rose through the ranks to colonel, in charge of an elite unit of paratroopers. In 1992, tapping into anger at the government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez, who had ordered the violent repression and killing of protesters, Chávez staged a coup d'etat. Dogged by betrayals, errors and bad luck, the coup failed, but not before Chávez was given 45 seconds on television to call for his supporters to lay down their arms. The charismatic leader said that his movement had been unsuccessful por ahora—"for now." Within days, the slogan appeared graffitied in the Caracas slums, making Chávez a folk hero to the lower classes.
Born in poverty, Hugo Chávez rose through the military and survived a failed coup to become one of the most influential figures in Latin America. The socialist leader, a demagogic populist who consolidated power and was in his fourth term as president, died March 5 at the age of 58 after a secrecy-shrouded battle with cancer.