Spain's king tells Chavez to 'shut up' during Latin American summit in Chile

Sunday, November 11, 2007

SANTIAGO, Chile -- The king of Spain told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to "shut up" Saturday during a heated exchange at a summit of leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

Chavez, who called President Bush the "devil" on the floor of the United Nations last year, triggered the exchange by repeatedly referring to former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "fascist."

Aznar, a conservative who was an ally of Bush as prime minister, "is a fascist," Chavez said in a speech at the Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile. "Fascists are not human. A snake is more human."

Spain's current socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, responded during his own allotted time by urging Chavez to be more diplomatic in his words and respect other leaders despite political differences.

"Former President Aznar was democratically elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate representative of the Spanish people," he said, eliciting applause from the gathered heads of state.

Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, but his microphone was off.

Spanish King Juan Carlos, seated next to Zapatero, angrily turned to Chavez and said, "Why don't you shut up?"

The Venezuelan leader did not immediately respond, but later used time ceded to him by his close ally Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to answer Zapatero's speech.

"I do not offend by telling the truth," he said. "The Venezuelan government reserves the right to respond to any aggression, anywhere, in any space and in any manner."

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