Foreign Policy Blogs

Chavez Takes Up Twitter

This blog does not purport to cover all relevant news that takes place in Venezuela, but instead provides some insight into major issues. Now, however, if you wish to get the latest update straight from President Hugo Chávez you can do so by following his Twitter feed @chavezcandanga.

The move appears to be an effort to dive into the use of digital media that has been a tool of opposition to the government. As Reuters points out, it may require a shift in the President’s approach:

Known for hours-long speeches, Chavez will now face the challenge of keeping his outpourings within the 140-character limit demanded by Twitter.

What is the significance of the name used by Chávez? In Venezuela “candanga” has its unique definition, and “is used to mean someone who is strong-willed and rebellious, or a troublemaker”. Given what the world has seen of the President during his decade-long rule of Venezuela and some of his more memorable international appearances (e.g. a speech to the UN in 2006 in which he referred to George W. Bush as the devil, and a public spat with the king of Spain in 2007), this seems appropriate.

Prior to Chávez’s first post there were more than 12,000 followers on Twitter. If these were all Venezuelans it represents a significant portion of the country’s 200,000 accounts, and all without sending even a single message. One wonders who will follow Chávez online. Are his supporters (who are more likely from poorer populations and have less access to the internet) going to be updated, or will it actually be the opposition keeping tabs on the President’s latest commentary?

Note: This story’s source, including the information on the number of Twitter users, is Reuters.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.