Delighted at his cyber success, Venezuela’s new Twitter convert President Hugo Chavez on Thursday invited Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Bolivian President Evo Morales to join the micro-blogging site too.
After several months grumbling that social networking sites in Venezuela were dominated by opponents of his socialist government, Chavez opened his own account this week and was clearly elated to have gathered 106,000 followers in two days.
“The potential this has … it’s not capitalist, it’s not socialist, it depends on how it is used,” he said after posting two messages on his page @chavezcandanga.
“I invite Evo and Fidel,” Chavez said. “Evo – are you on Twitter? Let’s invite Evo to Twitter,” Chavez said during a visit to a cattle ranch with Bolivia’s president.
Here he rambles on (in Spanish); notice how he says he’s received messages “from Russia, from China, well, maybe not from China”,
Lest you believe it’s all fun and games,
Separately, a 29-year-old Venezuelan was arrested on Thursday in connection with text messages calling for the assassination of Chavez, authorities said.
Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami said the man was detained in Merida, a city near the border with Colombia, along with computers and other materials.
“Death to Hugo Chavez, for a fatherland free of tyrants,” read the text, according to the minister.
Don’t miss Juan Forero’s report, Oil-rich Venezuela gripped by economic crisis
“We just stop,” said Jesus Yanis, who paints cars. “We don’t work.”
Neither does the rest of Venezuela, where a punishing, months-old energy crisis and years of state interventions in the economy are taking a brutal toll on private business. The result is that the economy is flickering and going dark, too, challenging Venezuela’s mercurial leader, Hugo Chávez, and his socialist experiment like never before.
No matter that Venezuela is one of the world’s great oil powers — among the top five providers of crude to the United States. Economists say Venezuela is gripped by an economic crisis that has no easy or fast solution, even if sluggish oil production were ramped up and profligate state spending were cut.
“The government is paralyzed, unable to handle the situation — and there are no fiscal plans to deal with the crisis,” said José Guerra, a former Central Bank economist who directs the economics department at Central University in Caracas, the capital. “Our situation is unbelievable, because we have one of the biggest reserves of oil in the world, thermal-electrical and hydroelectric sources.”
Read it all.