The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, is using Twitter as a tool to govern remotely while he undergoes cancer treatment in Cuba.
In more than 40 messages this week on his @chavezcandanga account, he has approved money for a Caracas rubbish collection project, praised plans for a new park and cheered on the national football team.
Chávez hasn’t mentioned anything directly about his chemotherapy but has alluded to his hospital stay, as he did in one tweet to a supporter on Tuesday: “We’re moving along here, brother! With God and the Virgin!”
Most of his messages have had the tone of a patriotic father figure connecting with his public. Chávez boasts more than 1.8 million followers, and his messages also regularly pop up on the screen on state television in Venezuela.
A leader who knows well how to choose his soundbites, Chávez has used Twitter to remain in the news at home.
He did just that Thursday morning in a flurry of messages when he complained about a referee’s call during Venezuela’s football match against Paraguay at the Copa América tournament in Argentina. Chávez said he had been watching alongside Fidel Castro and they both agreed it was a bad call. “In my modest opinion… THEY ROBBED US OF THE VICTORY GOAL! And I hope that with this I’m not offending anybody!” one of the messages said.
Chávez then turned to plans to create a park named after Simón Bolívar in a portion of a military airfield: “Bolívar Park is a true gift of the Bolívarian Revolution for our beautiful Caracas!!”
Seven hours later, Chávez was back saying he had met with Fidel and Raúl Castro, along with Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa. “What a beautiful meeting we’ve had this afternoon,” the message said, adding they finished by singing the Venezuelan song Alma Llanera.
In messages earlier in the week, Chávez greeted cabinet ministers and touted a public housing construction programme. He said he had approved the equivalent of more than $25m (£15m) for a new rubbish-collection company in Caracas, $51m for a state government and $37m for the organisation Frente Francisco de Miranda, which promotes efforts to transform Venezuela into a socialist state.
Turning to international affairs, Chávez directed a message to Mexican leader Felipe Calderón, saying: “Hey President Calderón, my friend, I thank you for your good wishes.”
The 56-year-old Chávez underwent surgery in Cuba on 20 June to remove a cancerous tumour. He hasn’t said what type of cancer has been diagnosed or specified where exactly it was located, saying only that it was in his pelvic region. He says chemotherapy is necessary to ensure cancer cells don’t reappear.
On Twitter, references to his treatment have been filled with optimistic slogans. As he signed off one night, the message read: “From here, closing another day of this Battle for Life.”