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Hugo Chavez dies and the Twitter town square reacts

Chavez was a media-savvy politician with more than 4 million Twitter followers. He promoted access to the Internet, while at the same time suppressing a free press.

(Credit: Twitter screenshot)

Hugo Chavez passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. The colorful and controversial socialist Venezuelan president, who once called President George W. Bush a "donkey" and President Obama a "fraud," was popular among the disenfranchised in his country and on Twitter, with more than 4 million followers. He made the Internet more accessible in Venezuela, creating hundreds of community "infocenters" with computers and free Internet service throughout the country. Simultaneously, he waged war on the free press in his country.

Chavez was absent from Twitter after Nov. 1, 2012, as he underwent more surgeries in Cuba. He posted three final tweets on Feb. 18, thanking his doctors and nurses, as well as Fidel and Raul Castro.

As the news spread of Chavez's death, the Twitter town square filled with a broad spectrum of comments, reflecting the variety of opinions about his 14 years as president and as a friend of U.S. foes.

Twitter serves as a hub with links to obits, stories, videos, and especially photo albums documenting his life. In many ways, Twitter has become the unrehearsed, digital equivalent of "This is Your Life" on a global scale.