Why did Hugo Chavez spam Venezuelans on Christmas?

Every Venezuelan received a holiday greeting from President Hugo Chavez on their mobile phone at Christmas. It was a very effective message, writes guest blogger Miguel Octavio.

Reuters/Miraflores Palace/Handout
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez addresses the Council of Ministers at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on Dec. 24, 2011.

Look at the message that most Venezuelans got on Christmas Day from Hugo Chavez (including me, I got it early on the 24th): “Each December, we have victoriously celebrated our unstoppable march towards the Good and Pretty Fatherland…Full of happiness, justice [sic], and social equality. Merry Christmas, partners (comrades?). Hugo Chavez."

People have noted that the message is abusive; it is after all spam, much like Chavez’ forced “cadenas” where everyone is forced to listen or turn the TV off since nothing else is on. There is also the question of who paid for it. Did Chavez force the message on the telecom operators? Is the list freely available to anyone like that? Is this a violation of privacy? A waste of resources?

We will never know. What we do know is that if this had been sent by an opposition politician, Chavez and the government would have made a ruckus over the issue.

You can also complain about the message (written in Spanish), not only about the use of the term “compañero” (partner) without the “ñ,” this could have been avoided choosing a better word, like venezolano, ciudadano, and the like. The message is also quite partisan, as half the population does not celebrate Chavez “unstoppable march” to wherever he thinks he is taking us.

But what I want to point out and note is that the message is quite effective. First of all, it has a high impact, as it is received by most Venezuelans, as cell phone penetration is over 100 percent by now (operators do not subtract canceled lines from their numbers). But more importantly, people are impressed that Chavez sent them a message. Of course your average opposition person does not like it, but I talked to a few people, not pro-Chavez, some who once supported him, who actually appreciated the message and told me about it not as a complaint, but more like: How about that message from Chavez!

So, much like many of the moves that Chavez makes, he got his money’s worth (or ours for that matter) sending a message that in the end earned him more goodwill with his supporters or his prospective supporters, even if it was wasted on most of us who will never vote for the revolution.

--- Miguel Octavio, a Venezuelan, is not a fan of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. You can read his blog here.

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