Caracas: Hugo Chavez is starting to use Twitter to counter his opponents online, forcing a president who often talks for hours to sum up each thought in 140 characters.
Chavez urged Venezuelans to watch his newly created account -- chavezcandanga -- after midnight on Tuesday when he planned to start tweeting. ``At that point is when I let loose,`` he said on Tuesday.
A close aide to Chavez, Public Works Minister Diosdado Cabello, announced the Twitter account was set up for the president. Chavez said he has a team working on it.
By late Tuesday, the socialist leader had more than 18,000 followers before posting a single tweet.
Chavez, who has recently seen his popularity slip amid a recession and soaring inflation, has often been outmaneuvered by opponents who are more active on the Web than his supporters.
Cabello said on Monday that Chavez`s supporters plan to ``take over by assault`` social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
``The opposition thinks it owns the social networking sites. They think Twitter and Facebook belong to them,`` Cabello was quoted as saying by the state news agency in a story it put out on Tuesday.
``We`re fighting and there are 7 million of us who will have Twitter,`` he said, referring to members of Chavez`s party.
He said Chavez`s Twitter feed will be messages ``from our commander.``
Chavez, who was first elected in 1998, has built his presidency around being a communicator in touch with Venezuelans. In addition to a Sunday radio and TV program that lasts up to seven hours, Chavez also makes near-daily speeches on television that often last three hours or more.
The name chosen for his Twitter account -- chavezcandanga -- includes a word that is used in various Latin American countries to refer to the devil. In Venezuela, it denotes punishment as severe as that suffered by sinners sent before the devil.