President Nicolás Maduro hasn’t been a fan of open communication in the past. From refusing to release information about Venezuela’s inflation rate to lying about how much the Zika virus has affected the country, clear communication just doesn’t seem to be his style.
So it came as a pretty big surprise when, on Feb. 9, Maduro signed up for Facebook.
Maybe he was hoping to creep on former high school classmates. Possibly he was wondering if any of his friends had posted any unflattering pictures of him. Or he could have decided that he missed one too many family reunions and dinners because the invites were only sent out through Facebook.
What matters is that Maduro is now on The Book of Faces, and he wants to be your friend. He recently sent out the following tweet:
“Los invito a tod@s a activarse en mi cuenta de Facebook que a partir de hoy llevaré para comunicarme a diario… http://www.facebook.com/NicolasMaduro/… ”
Translation: “I invite everyone to “friend” me on Facebook, which as of today I will use to communicate on a daily basis…”
As PRI reported, Venezuelans have been using Facebook for over a decade. It’s estimated that around 40% of the country’s 30 million people have a Facebook account, and nearly 60% of the population regularly accesses the internet.
Even though the inflation rate and widespread shortages in Venezuela have made it difficult to access computers and smartphones, it’s clear that these items are considered some of the most valuable commodities. Open communication comes at a price; many Venezuelans have had their personal cellphones stolen because the value of these items is so high on the black market. The average smartphone is designed to last for at least two years, but as Bloomberg Business reported, you can lose your phone in a matter of minutes if you dare to pull it out while walking down a street in Caracas.
The ability to communicate with others and to voice discontent about Maduro’s regime is something that might just allow Venezuela to find political and economic stability before it’s too late.
Maduro’s Facebook page has already become a popular place. Considering the dire economic state that Venezuela is facing, it’s not really a surprise that many comments left on Maduro’s posts are a little less than supportive.
“I refuse to be a hypocrite or a brown-noser, you know that the country is in a bad way, due to your and your cabinet’s ineptitude,” wrote one user under the profile name Geo Loyal.
“You know that the country is at the edge of bankruptcy because, instead of being invested in Venezuela, the capital we did have was stolen. Take some responsibility and do something useful with your life like resigning as president and shooting yourself, because neither you or any of the others from your party are good for anything. Go to h*** Nicolas Maduro!” [Note: Original comment has been translated into English.]