The many lovers of Hugo Chavez

British supermodel Naomi Campbell smiles with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Credit: Reuters via The Age
British supermodel Naomi Campbell smiles with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Credit: Reuters via The Age

Hugo Chavéz’s love life was as flamboyant as his larger-than-life persona. In 1977, the then 23-year-old revolutionary insurgent married Nancy Colmenares, a working-class woman from Chavéz’s home town of Sabaneta in Barinas province. Chavéz would go on to have three children with Colmenares: Rosa Virginia (born September 1978), Maria Gabriela (born March 1980) and Hugo Rafael (born October 1983).

The marriage ended in divorce in 1992, mostly because of his earlier, public 10-year-affair with a prominent half-German historian, Herma Marksman. Some experts reckon Marksman was the woman Chavéz loved most: the revolutionary historian influenced Chavéz’s ideological training and took part in the preparation of the coup d’état of 1992 that put Chavéz in prison. His relationship with Marksman declined before his jail release in 1994. In a confidential cable from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas that was exposed in the WikiLeaks scandal, Marksman said that Chavéz was not faithful to anyone and he did not have any true friends.

Two years after being released, Chavéz met Marisabel Rodriguez, a blonde-haired radio journalist. According to revelations made by Venezuelan daily El Universal, they conceived their own child, Rosinés, on their first date. They married in 1997 but divorced in 2003 over Chavéz’s extramartial affairs.

In 2007, it was reported that Chavéz was having an affair with British supermodel Naomi Campbell. The model arrived in Venezuela to interview the president for British GQ magazine. Campbell’s remarks at the time that “[Chavéz] is not a gorilla, he is more a bull [...] His role will always be that of a rebel angel” failed to stop the rumors.

Likewise, the alleged relationship between Chavéz and Venezuelan actress and former Miss Venezuela World Ruddy Rodriguez made sensational headlines. In January 2006, Chavéz also denied the romance and claimed that it was false.

While Chavéz did not have an official partner since 2003, Maria Gabriela, the second of Chavéz’s four children, acted as a stand-in First Lady of the Republic, accompanying El Comandante at high-profile events.


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