Chavez Joins Twitter: 'Vehicle for Terrorists' No More?

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has finally warmed up to Twitter. Just months ago, he called the microblogging site a "vehicle for terrorists." But last night he became a full fledged member. His maiden tweet was quite colloquial--the English translation reads:

Hey how's it going? I appeared like I said I would: at midnight. I'm off to Brazil. And very happy to work for Venezuela. We will be victorious!!

Why the change of heart? The BBC cites a couple factors:

With his popularity dented by a recession and soaring inflation, the Venezuelan leader has often been outmanoeuvered by opponents more active on the web than his supporters.

His opponents made use of the hashtag #freevenezuela to protest his rule, leading him to denounce the Internet as a "current of conspiracy" in March. Since joining Twitter, however, the socialist leader has enjoyed a friendlier response on the Web. Chavez's Twitter account has attracted just under 60,000 followers in roughly a day. According to The Washington Post's Jorge Rueda, the decision to join was inevitable:

Chavez... has built his presidency around being a communicator in touch with Venezuelans. In addition to a Sunday radio and TV program that lasts up to seven hours, Chavez also makes near-daily speeches on television that often last three hours or more.

The strangest detail about all this is probably Chavez's account name "chavezcandanga." Apparently "it denotes punishment as severe as that suffered by sinners sent before the devil."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.