Position: President of Venezuela
Incumbent: Nicolas Maduro
Date of Birth: November 23, 1962
Term: He became acting president on March 8, 2013, three days after the death of President Hugo Chavez from cancer. Maduro, the ruling Socialist Party’s candidate, won the resulting April 14 presidential election and was sworn in five days later.
- Maduro served six years as foreign minister before being named vice president in October 2012 and then Chavez’s handpicked successor two months later. As Chavez’s illness worsened, the burly, mustachioed Maduro became the South American nation’s de facto leader.
- A former bus driver and union leader and self-declared “Chavista,” Maduro is expected to continue Chavez’s policies, including nationalizations, tight state control of the economy and financial support for allies such as communist-led Cuba.
- Maduro faced opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the centrist governor of Miranda state, in the April 14 vote. Maduro only narrowly won and Capriles refused to recognize the election result. He has alleged that there were thousands of voting irregularities.
- Like Chavez, Maduro has a penchant for extreme rhetoric. He has accused foes of plotting to assassinate him and suggested that “imperialist” enemies infected Chavez with cancer. In a March 13 speech, Maduro said that “far right” figures in the United States were plotting to kill Capriles.
- Maduro inherited an economy beset by high inflation and unemployment but buoyed by the OPEC member’s oil reserves. He has said that private sector hoarding and “speculative attacks” on the bolivar currency were to blame for the economic problems.
- As foreign minister, Maduro had a relatively dull image and never diverted from Chavez’s line. He traveled widely, denouncing U.S. foreign policy and cultivating allies in emerging markets such as Russia and China, which would become a key financier.
- In 1992, when Chavez was jailed for a failed coup that made him famous, Maduro took to the streets to demand his release and visited him in prison. Maduro was first elected to the National Assembly in 2000, later becoming its president.
- He was born in Caracas and attended high school in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. He began his political career as a trade unionist representing the workers of the Caracas Metro system.
- He is married to Cilia Flores, a former leader of the National Assembly who now serves as the nation’s attorney general, and the two have long been viewed as a “power couple” in the government. Maduro was raised a Roman Catholic, and he and his wife are supporters of the late Indian spiritual guru Sai Baba.
Compiled by Caracas bureau and Washington MPG Desk; Editing by David Cutler and Paul Simao