Chávez first rose to prominence after a failed coup attempt in 1992. President Carlos Andrés Pérez had fueled widespread discontent after implementing a series of austerity measures, including a gas price hike. Pérez called in the national guard when riots broke out, and hundreds were killed in the ensuing crackdown. Chávez, a lieutenant colonel in the Venezuelan military who was disturbed by Pérez's policies, led an attack by rebel paratroopers on the Presidential Palace of Miraflores on Feb. 4, 1992. When the attempt failed, Chávez announced his defeat in a TV appearance that made him a hero overnight. He famously declared that he'd only been defeated "por ahora" -- for now.
Above, Hugo Chávez talks to reporters on March 26, 1994 following his release from jail, after charges against him were dropped by President Rafael Caldera in fulfillment of a campaign promise.