Here's Why Millions Of Venezuelans Loved Hugo Chavez [PHOTOS]

Venezuela Hugo Chavez

Photo: AP

Before his death from cancer this week, Hugo Chavez had been President of Venezuela since 1999.In that time he became a divisive figure, making serious economic reforms in the country,  seizing private property, and clamping down on criticism. Critics say that the Venezuela he created is simply not sustainable.

Even so, he had millions of supporters. Last year, while seriously ill from cancer, he was able to come back and win an election by a margin of 10 points, down from 25 per cent in 2006.

One approval rating from last year gave him a 64 per cent positive rating — 15 points higher than Obama received in the same poll.

We’ve selected some images that will give you a glimpse into Chavez’s Venezuela — a Venezuela that could be about to change for good.

Venezuela's quality of life improved at the third-fastest pace worldwide during his time as leader.

He helped cut the country's poverty rate to 29.5 per cent in 2011 from 48.6 per cent in 2002, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America.

Venezuela moved seven spots to 73 out of 187 countries in the UN's index of human development from 2006 to 2011.

Source: Bloomberg

On average, Venezuelans rated their life satisfaction 7.5 on a scale from 1-10, above the global average of 5.5, in a 2012 index of global prosperity compiled by a London-based research organisation.

Source: Bloomberg

Venezuela has the lowest income inequality of all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a report by UN-HABITAT.

Source: Bloomberg

Correction: The original article failed to note that Venezuela's oil industry was initally nationalized in 1973, and that the Chavez government's 2001 Hydrocarbons law only built on this further.

The country had so much oil they even sold some to low income households in the US at a 40% discount.

Source: Global Post

Poor neighborhoods could survive on food from government-subsidized grocery stores.

The government even sent soldiers into slums to paint the neighborhoods bright, cheerful colours.

And his government quite literally let the homeless into their homes.

Chavez also used the money to put the country on the world stage.

Perhaps more than anything, his supporters responded to his strong personality.

The big question now is whether Chavez's anointed heir, Nicolás Maduro, can keep Chavez's Venezuela together.

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