CARACAS, Venezuela – A young woman in Venezuela has been rewarded with a new home by President Hugo Chavez for becoming his 3 millionth follower on Twitter.
Natalia Valdivieso posted celebratory messages on her Twitter account as she received her home Thursday, one of them reading: "Thank you my home is very beautiful!" She said there were about 200 families receiving public housing in her area on Margarita Island.
Chavez congratulated Valdivieso in a message on Monday when he said she had become his 3 millionth follower. His regional campaign manager, Carlos Mata Figueroa, announced later that she would receive the home. Government officials said Valdivieso is 19 years old.
Chavez's government has been building new public housing complexes ahead of the country's Oct. 7 presidential election.
In other messages Thursday, Valdivieso called Chavez "the best president" and gushed: "I woke up knowing that is the happiest day of my life!"
The giveaway also sparked criticism from some, and jokes by others.
Government critic Gustavo Coronel wrote on his blog that it was "intolerable" for Chavez to have rewarded someone in such a way simply for being a supporter. He noted the home was built with government money, not Chavez's money, and asked how the president dared to dole it out on the basis of political support.
"It's about shamelessly giving charity to those who follow him," Coronel wrote.
The satirical website El Chiguire Bipolar poked fun at the handout with a mock news article saying that Chavez's 2,999,999 other Twitters followers were disappointed.
"Millions of the president's followers complained at having received nothing," it said.