Hugo ChÃ¡vez was a true phenomenon. On his death in March 2013 tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets and honoured a seven-day period of national mourning. ChÃ¡vez has been compared to Napoleon, Nasser, PerÃ³n and Castro but the truth is there has never been a leader like him. He was democratically elected, reigned like a monarch from a mobile television throne, and provoked adoration and revulsion in equal measure.
How did a charismatic autocrat seduce not just a nation but a significant part of world opinion? And how did he continue to stay in power despite the crumbling of Venezuela? When he first came to power in 1999, ChÃ¡vez became a symbol of hope and freedom for his people. Yet, in his fourteen years as president, ChÃ¡vez seized control of the lucrative Venezuelan oil industry, allowed basic government functions to wither, jailed political opponents and courted Castro and Ahmadinejad, all while occupying much of Venezuela's airwaves with his long-running television show, AlÃ³ Presidente!.
In Comandante, acclaimed journalist Rory Carroll breaches the walls of Miraflores Palace to tell the inside story of ChÃ¡vez's life and his political court in Caracas. Blending the lyricism and strangeness of magical realism with the brutal, ugly truth of authoritarianism - a powerful combination reminiscent of Ryszard Kapuscinski's The Emperor - Rory Carroll has written the definitive account of Hugo ChÃ¡vez's presidency, and the legacy he has left behind.
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