Timeline: Venezuela during the Chavez era

From army officer to “El Comandante”, how Chavez became the Bolivarian icon of contemporary Latin American leftism.

Venezuelans react to Chavez''s death
Elias Jaua, Venezuela's foreign minister, has declared seven days of mourning for Chavez [EPA]

1992 – Hugo Chavez, then a military officer, leads a failed coup attempt and is jailed.  

1994 – Chavez is freed from prison and forms a new political party. 

1998 – Hugo Chavez is elected president. 

1999 – Chavez takes office promising to reduce poverty and corruption. 

2000 – Chavez wins presidential elections by a margin above 20 per cent, against challenger Francisco Arias. 

2001 – Venezuela’s government decrees a new law requiring PDVSA, the state petroleum company, to hold a majority stake in all upstream oil projects

2002 – A strike by workers at PDVSA creates political chaos. The opposition launches a coup that ousts Chavez for three days, until democracy is restored by Chavez supporters and loyal members of the security forces. 

2002-2003 – Chavez sacks about 20,000 PDVSA employees in light of the coup attempt, and begins using the energy company to finance social programmes. 

2004 – Voters defeat an effort to recall Chavez by a wide margin. 

2006 – During a vote with exceptionally high turnout, Chavez wins re-election to a new six-year term.

2007 – Chavez takes control over four heavy oil products in the Orinoco belt worth billions of dollars. US oil firms Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips leave the country and sue for compensation. 

2007 – Chavez suffers his first electoral defeat in a referendum changing dozens of articles in Venezuela’s constitution, including the abolition of term limits. 

2008 – Oil prices peak above $145 per barrel, and PDVSA is put in charge of a major food importing campaign to deal with supply shortages. 

2010 – Congressional elections lead to significant gains for the opposition, but Chavez’s United Socialist Party still retains a majority. 

2011 – Chavez undergoes cancer surgery in Cuba. 

July 4, 2011 – The president makes a surprise return to Venezuela ahead of the country’s Independence Day celebrations.

July 17, 2011 – Chavez returns to Cuba to begin a course of chemotherapy.

September 22, 2011 – The president his fourth and course of chemotherapy.

October 20, 2011 – Following tests in Havana, Chavez declares himself free from his cancer, and his doctors say he is completely cured.

December 2, 2011 – Chavez hosts a regional summit, minus representatives from the United States, in Caracas.

December 20, 2011 – Attends a Mercosur summit in Uruguay, Chavez’s first political trip overseas since his illness was diagnosed.

February 21, 2012 – Chavez says he will undergo another operation after a lesion was found in the same area where he had the tumor.

February 28, 2012 – The president undergoes surgery in Cuba.

March 4, 2012 – Chavez says he will undergo radiation treatment in Cuba.

March 16, 2012 – The president returns to Venezuela after his latest operation.

March 25, 2012 – Chavez returns to Havana to begin his first cycle of radiation therapy.

April 5, 2012 – President cries during Mass, calls on God “not to take him yet” because he has more to do for Venezuela.

April 14, 2012 – Chavez returns to Cuba for more radiation treatment, missing the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

October 7, 2012 – Chavez wins re-election at presidential poll.

November 27, 2012 – The president says he will return to Cuba for treatment including hyperbaric oxygenation, which can be used to treat the side effects of radiation therapy.

December 30, 2012 – Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s vice president, has said President Hugo Chavez is suffering from “new complications” following his cancer surgery in Cuba.

Febuary 13 – Maduro announces that Chaves is undergoing “complex” alternative treatments in Cuba. 

February 15 – Venezuelan authorities release the first photos of President Chavez in more than two months. He is seen laying in a hospital bed in Cuba beside his two smiling daughters. 

February 18 – Hugo Chavez announces via twitter that he has returned to Venezuela to continue his recovery in a military hospital. 

March 5 – Chavez succumbs to cancer and dies in Caracas.