Hugo!, By Bart Jones

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Despite his recent disparagement of golf as "a bourgeois sport for people... who are lazy", Venezuela's revolutionary leader is not antipathetic to all American sport. So obsessed by baseball that he once wanted to turn pro, Hugo Chavez described his election victory in 2000 as "a home run with all the bases loaded".

Jones has compiled a detailed dossier on the confident, larger-than-life figure that we see on the news. Chavez's adoption of a karate pose at his first meeting with Putin reveals both nerve and knowledge (Putin is a black belt).

If his behaviour sometimes blunders into bullying – he insults opponents "depicting them as worthless scum" – there is no doubting his profound sympathy with Venezuela's poor majority. Though regarded in America as "a threat to the civilised world", Chavez retains one overwhelming advantage: oil.