Hugo Chavez was more of an annoyance than a threat to U.S. interests. But what an annoyance. While he once thought Twitter was a tool of terrorism, he became convinced it was an asymmetric tool to combat what he called a “conspiracy” of pro-American opponents. Any social media that rewarded hyperbole was tailor-made for Chavez. On Twitter, his use of exclamation points — prolifically — were guaranteed. Comparing enemies to fascists and barbarians? Check. Feigned outrage and grandiose boasts? Chavez was a pro.
In May 2011, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions against the Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA for selling gasoline reformate to Iran, prohibiting Chavez’s cash-cow from receiving U.S. export licenses. Chavez tweeted: “Sanctions against the homeland of [Simon] Bolivar? Imposed by the gringo imperialist government? Well: Welcome Mr Obama! Do not forget we are the children of Bolivar!” The sanctions proceeded.