Venezuela’s government is monitoring social networking websites for messages from the opposition that might destabilize the country in the run-up to next month’s election pitting Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor against the socialist leader’s former rival. Authorities today arrested a computer technician for allegedly sending “inappropriate” and “destabilizing” messages from a hacked account, Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said on state-owned television. He didn’t provide details of the messages. “We are going to be very watchful,” Reverol said. “We won’t permit one millimeter of destabilization.”
The warning comes two days after acting President Nicolas Maduro and Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski registered to compete in an April 14 election to replace Chavez, who died March 5. News that the state is overseeing social networking sites owned by Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. is designed to quiet the opposition, said analyst Carlos Romero.
“This is a strategy of intimidation,” Romero, a political scientist at Venezuela’s Central University, said by phone from Caracas. “The government is doing everything possible to reduce the opposition’s political impact in Venezuela. They’re trying to instill fear.”