Please respect Sean Penn’s privacy during this difficult time. #riphugo
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) March 5, 2013
Chavez, whose Twitter account has more than 4 million followers, died after battling lung cancer. He was 58.
By 5 p.m. ET, a number of terms related to Chavez—including “Sean Penn” and “Castro,” in reference to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro—were among the trending topics on Twitter.
U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, a Democrat from the South Bronx, made headlines after Chavez’s passing when he tweeted this R.I.P. message:
Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless.R.I.P. Mr. President.
— Jose E. Serrano (@RepJoseSerrano) March 5, 2013