Four Latin Americans in Twitter's top 10 world leaders in 2013

Thursday, January 2, 2014

In 2013, 80% of world leaders were using Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) as a medium to communicate with the public, with four Latin American countries - Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil - in the top 10 by number of followers, according to a report by the Digital Policy Council (DPC).

A total of 133 world leaders from 167 countries ended 2013 with Twitter accounts in their personal name or through an official government office, representing an 8% growth over 2012.

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Twitter continued to be the platform of choice for political activists in 2013 with a rise in protests in many countries.


Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner moved up one spot in 2013 to number six with 2.5mn followers. President Fernández rarely gives interviews or takes questions from reporters but often uses her Twitter account as a substitute. When 2mn Argentines protested in the streets against her government in the spring of 2013, Fernández sent more than 60 tweets in a single day, the report said.

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto moved up one place to number 8 gaining 100,000 followers in 2013 to top 2.35mn. Peña Nieto tweeted from the funeral of Nelson Mandela, which he attended along with other world leaders.

President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia fell by one spot to number nine worldwide in 2013 with 2.31mn followers. He continued to favor Twitter in place of more traditional communication strategies. "I use it sometimes to send messages to clarify certain things, to communicate with the country," he said. "You send out a tweet and immediately, if it's something important, it comes out in the media. Instead of making so many press conferences, you use Twitter."

2013 marked Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's Twitter comeback. The President had abandoned her account following her election in 2010. However, after a young Brazilian citizen created a parody account that went viral, the president invited the "other Dilma" to the presidential palace in September 2013 and has been tweeting since then.

The government's lack of interaction with Brazilians on social media became obvious during the June protests over corruption, poor public services and police violence, the report said.

The South American Twitterverse lost its most popular leader last year following the passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who at the time of his death in March 2013 had amassed 4mn followers.

In 2012 he weighed in as the second most popular world leader, although he had 20mn fewer followers than President Obama.

Twitter erupted following his death with tweets of his favorite political slogans trending after his death.

His handpicked successor Nicolás Maduro was able to cash in on Chavez's popularity, entering the ranking at number 13.