Hugo Chavez to take his fight to Twitter?

The Venezuelan leader decides he must "wage the battle online" by becoming a microblogger. Will he "break records for numbers of followers," as predicted?

When Winston Churchill decided to make a stand against tyranny, he spoke these famous words: "we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

The world has moved on a little since Churchill's day. So perhaps you, too, will experience a curious motion in your surroundings when I tell you of a report that Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, has decided to fight the scourge of terrorism with similarly grand determination.

For Bloomberg is reporting that the man who said in January that Web and texting activity critical of him amounted to "terrorism" is to join Twitter.

Will he be the world's foremost tweetalitarian? CC BLMurch/Flickr

"Comandante Chavez is going to open his Twitter account soon to wage the battle online. I'm sure he'll break records for numbers of followers," Diosdado Cabello, head of Venezuela's telecommunications regulator, Conatel, reportedly declared on state television.

I have no doubt that a telecommunications regulator whose name translates to "God-given Hair" knows what he is talking about. Hordes will flock like sheep desperate for a shearing in order to follow tweets of a man who is so very of the people and by the people (but not "buy the people").

How can the world's twitterers not look forward to such literary gems as Chavez directed at U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: "Remember, little girl, I'm like the thorn tree that flowers on the plain"?

How can they not imagine that he will offer the sort of pithy, thoughtful bons mots, such as this one he offered to former British Prime Minster Tony Blair: "Go straight to hell, Mr. Blair"?

On Sundays, Chavez broadcasts to his nation. These orations can last for hours. Indeed, the man who put the "lit" into totalitarian mellifluously suggested that he might nationalize his country's gold mines. He spoke delicately of "national and transnational mafias."

So how many of us will willingly dedicate ourselves to sleep when, at any given moment, Chavez's arrival on Twitter might bring something of the caliber of his 2005 attack on Halloween ("Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way.")?

Whatever he decides to post, it will surely be more uplifting and more entertaining than a Twitter feed seemingly intended to represent Fidel Castro. (Sample: "Science has grown extraordinarily. But so have ignorance and poverty.")

The lovely thing about Twitter is that it is endearingly public and sweetly immediate. So my only worry is that Chavez, who has not lost an election in nine years, might need to employ a ghost-tweeter in order to field all the messages of goodwill that will surely come the way of such a popular politician.

 

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