Dictators have a thing about giving long speeches. Three of the four longest political speeches on record by contemporary politicians are by Gaddafi, Hugo Chavez, and Fidel Castro (ranked third is a 7 1/2-hour speech by Gavin Newsom, but we won’t go there). Castro’s riveting “Denouncement of Imperialism and Colonialism” (also known as “Naptime for Diplomats”) before the UN General Assembly lasted four and a half hours, while his speech before the 1986 Communist Party Congress went on (and on and on and on) for seven hours and ten minutes.
Though prolix speeches are as Castro as fine cigars and fatigues, the retired Cuban leader has just passed 100,000 followers on his Twitter account—Castro himself follows only 19 people, but then again, he is more of a leader than a follower. He was apparently asked to join the site by good friend Hugo Chavez, another person famous for his wordy rants. On recent visit to Cuba, Chavez may have offered Fidel some tips on how to keep his tweets tweetably succinct.
Most of Castro’s tweets involve current events, and particularly the situation in the Middle East as of late. Some reports say that Castro doesn’t actually write most of the tweets. Instead, his staff members select passages from his writings. In other words, Fidel has more in common with Sarah Palin than either of them would like to admit.
The sad thing about Castro’s tweeting is that he is not the most prominent Cuban twitterer. That honor goes to Yoani Sanchez, a blogger and political dissident based in Havana with 109,898 followers.