"Hugo Chavez, the charismatic and controversial President of Venezuela, reached the ultimate seat of political power with his election as head of state in 1998. Carefully cultivating the image of an impoverished Venezuelan youth reaching the highest political office in Venezuela, Chavez has a devoted and loyal following among Venezuela's lower class. Having survived several political crises, Chavez is a masterful political gamesman who zealously guards his power while maintaining a staunchly anti-American and anti-elite stance. This requires a delicate balancing act, as he gains strength from his oppositional stance to the Venezuelan elite and the West, especially the United States, whose financial resources are crucial to Venezuela's economic survival. [...] Encouraged by the validation of his victory at the polls, Chavez has increasingly allied himself with, and publicly supported, major adversaries of the United States, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea, as well as Hamas. His self concept is not limited by the water's edge, but he seems to see himself as a leading international defender of the poor and the weak against the powerful. This is the theme he exploited so effectively in winning the presidency of Venezuela. His support for terrorism has not been so widespread as that for rogue state leaders, with major support to his social-revolutionary comrades operating in neighboring Colombia. There are unconfirmed reports of early support for Al Qaeda, and such support could increase if he moves out in an increasingly messianic omnipotent direction."
United States Air Force Counterproliferation Center: Counterproliferation Paper No. 39
Defense Technical Information Center: http://www.dtic.mil/