After getting the short end of the Twitter stick, Venezuela president, Hugo Chávez, called it “terrorism,” “a battle trench” and a “current of conspiracy. “The Internet cannot be free!” he proclaimed. Since he has taken six television channels he didn’t like off the air and imprisoned reporters, who knew what he would do?
Well, it turns out he intends “to open his Twitter account soon to wage the battle online,” according to Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s chief telecommunications regulator.
With Venezuela’s once invincible-seeming oil-economy now in the toilet and his approval rating diving below 50% perhaps El Jefe feels he has no choice. Since mass media in Venezuela is under constant threat from its strongman head of state, his opponents and critics have monopolized the microblogging platform and that platform is becoming popular.
Reuters outlined its recent growth.
“The microblogging site has seen an explosive rise in usage in Venezuela to more than 200,000 active accounts. With growth of over 1,000 percent in 2009, Venezuela now has one of the highest rates per capita of Twitter users in Latin America.”
The moment you shut people up, you no longer speak for them. This has started to dawn on some of Chávez’s once-vocal partisans. It may take longer for those whose solidarity is limited to their Che t-shirts. May I suggest you Sharpie #FreeVenezuela across yours?