Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was born 28 July 1954, the son of schoolteachers from Sabaneta, a poor farming town in the western state of Barinas. He earned a degree from the Military Academy of Venezuela in Caracas in 1975. He later earned a graduate degree in international relations at the Simón Bolívar University. Chávez spent years building an underground organization inside the army to oppose military corruption. As head of an elite paratrooper unit, he led 12,000 troops in the first of two failed coup attempts against President Carlos Andres Perez in 1992.
Chávez is an avid baseball player. He enjoys traditional Venezuelan food, the popular joropo dance, and native art. Chávez is well-read, and has dabbled in play writing. He has been married twice and has four children with his second wife, Marisabel. His political inspiration is Simón Bolívar, who is often invoked in his speeches. Chávez is a devout Roman Catholic who often quotes passages from the Bible.