During a recent stay in Cuba, Hugo Chávez took to Twitter to stay in touch with his people. The president of Venezuela has cancer and was in Havana to have a tumour removed, but he took time out to tweet to his more than 1.8 million followers. “We’re moving along here, brother! With God and the Virgin!” read one post, according to a translation by the Associated Press. “In my modest opinion…THEY ROBBED US OF THE VICTORY GOAL,” said another, a reference to a soccer match between his country and Paraguay.
Chávez’s Twitter campaign earned wry headlines abroad. But back home, it was his choice of medical locale that was causing a stir. The Venezuelan health system has been a shambles for decades; under Chávez, opponents say, things have grown dramatically worse. By seeking treatment abroad, critics charge, Chávez has tacitly acknowledged that the Venezuelan system is not up to snuff. What does the president think? At this point, he has yet to express himself on the issue, on Twitter or anywhere else.