Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who already writes a weekly newspaper column, created a radio program and speaks for as many as seven hours every Sunday, plans to add a Twitter Inc. account to his media arsenal.
“Comandante Chavez is going to open his Twitter account soon to wage the battle online,” Diosdado Cabello, head of the country’s telecommunications regulator, said today on state television. “I’m sure he’ll break records for numbers of followers.”
Chavez will join world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama (3.8 million followers), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3,547 followers) and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (88,978 followers) in reaching out to supporters and opponents alike via the social networking tool that limits users to 140 characters per post.
Chavez, a former paratrooper who wants to convert Venezuela into a socialist state, says his government is waging a media war against conservative news organizations that vilify his presidency and follow orders from the U.S. to overthrow his administration. Chavez was praised last year by his mentor Fidel Castro, who has a Twitter site organized by newspaper Cubadebate.cu, for spending 1,536 hours over 10 years speaking during his “Alo Presidente” show.
“The case of Hugo Chavez is exceptional in the history of politics,” Castro wrote in a note published last year on the Cubadebate.com website. “Others have gained fame through the written press, radio and television, but never has a revolutionary idea made use of a communications media with such efficiency.”
The announcement comes after Venezuela’s opposition said Chavez, 55, was trying to block social networking sites like Facebook Inc. and Twitter last month after he called for an investigation into a local news site for publishing false information about the death of Cabello, who is also Public Works and Housing Minister.
Chavez rejected the accusations and said that he would soon be setting up his own website to publish news and participate in debates.
“I’m going to have my online trench from the palace to wage the battle,” he said on March 21. “I’ll provide information and even respond to my enemies.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Cancel in Caracas at email@example.com.