As you’ve probably heard, your favorite socialist dictator and mine—beloved Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez—has created a Twitter account. The whole thing is kind of fascinating and is sure to be featured on SNL this week (mark my words). His handle is ChavezCandanga which means “Chavez the Devil”. Although he probably means it to translate to “ChavezCool or “ChavezToughGuy”.
His first and only tweet translates to:
“Hey, how’s it going? I showed up (on Twitter), as promised, at midnight. Off to Brazil, and happy to be working for Venezuela. We shall prevail!!”
That’s pretty laid back for somebody who criticized internet behavior as a whole a few weeks ago, saying that people feel like they can say or do whatever they want on the internet, as if it were a bad thing. He also went as far as to say that anything anti-him on Twitter was considered a terrorist threat—and demanded state control of the internet.
Well, it looks like he’s gotten over his “I’ll take my ball and go home” approach on this and is adopting an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude. This is a pretty smart move on his part. Dictator for life or not, I would imagine that it’s easier to rule people who don’t all hate you, or at least not completely. With 7 million Venezuelans using Twitter currently, maybe Chavez working his way into the hearts and minds of the youth by “acting cool” via Twitter will prevent a coup down the road. He got 62,000 followers on day one, which is a pretty good start. Especially for a guy following five people.
This brings me to another point. Of the five, one of the people he’s following is Fidel Castro. Fidel’s stream is about what you would expect from a Communist dictator. It consists of a few brief reflections which link to super-long, drawn-out reflections. I don’t know if this is the difference between having oil and not having oil, or maybe the difference between Socialism and Communism or what, but here’s the sad part: Fidel only has 3,947 followers. If more of his country had the internet, maybe he would have more online support like Obama. See for yourself here. If it weren’t linked to by Chavez, frankly, I’d think the account was a joke.
But I digress. Twitter has once again superseded expectations. Who ever thought that the same technology that tells you that “Brett needs a nappy-poo” could be used so effectively as a political tool? It’s no secret that Obama used this medium to woo the masses and to curry a few votes. Now, however, dictators, actual dictators (some more effectively than others) are spreading propaganda on Twitter as they might on any state-run media outlet. It’s impossible to say how many readers are tuning in from other countries just to see what this guy has to say and how many are actually drinking the Kool-Aid, but it just seems to be a bastardization of an otherwise a friendly social medium.