Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 12:00 UK

Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez takes to Twitter

Hugo Chavez's first message on his new Twitter account
Mr Chavez is tapping into a surge in Twitter use in Venezuela

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president well known for his marathon TV addresses to the nation, has taken to Twitter to share his thoughts.

After he promised to "let loose" on Tuesday night, a Spanish-language tweet duly appeared on his new chavezcandanga account 14 minutes after midnight.

It was a simple message to say he was off on a working trip to Brazil.

By morning the leftist leader, a divisive figure at home and abroad, had nearly 29,000 followers on Twitter.

With his popularity dented by a recession and soaring inflation, the Venezuelan leader has often been outmanoeuvred by opponents more active on the web than his supporters, correspondents say.

Hey how's it going? I appeared like I said I would: at midnight. I'm off to Brazil. And very happy to work for Venezuela. We will be victorious!!
Hugo Chavez's first official tweet

A close aide, Public Works Minister Diosdado Cabello, announced on Monday that Chavez supporters planned to "storm" social networking sites.

"The opposition thinks it owns the social networking sites - they think Twitter and Facebook belong to them," he said.

"We're fighting and there are seven million of us who will have Twitter," he declared, referring to the membership claimed by Mr Chavez's United Socialist Party.

Mr Cabello promised that the presidential Twitter feed would carry messages "from our commander".

A screen grab of the Alo Presidente website on 28 April
Mr Chavez's TV speeches are also available online

Twitter has seen an explosive rise in usage in Venezuela to more than 200,000 active accounts, Reuters news agency reports.

With growth of more than 1,000% in 2009, Venezuela now has one of the highest rates per capita of users of Twitter in Latin America, Reuters adds.

Messages on the site are limited to 140 characters or fewer.

Delivering his weekly TV show Alo Presidente, Mr Chavez once went on air for eight hours and 15 minutes without a break.

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