Spain’s king to Chavez: ‘Just shut up’

SANTIAGO, Nov 10, 2007 (AFP) – Spain’s King Juan Carlos I told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to “just shut up,” bringing an Ibero-American summit to end in spectacular fashion on Saturday. Spain’s monarch stormed out just before the scheduled end of the forum, visibly furious at Chavez’s description of his former prime minister as a “fascist” and for launching a wide-ranging tirade that could not be stopped.

The dispute was a dramatic finale for the 17th meeting of the heads of state and government of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in Latin America, and Spain, Portugal and Andorra, which started Thursday.

Chavez — a notoriously hotheaded leader who is seeking to leverage his country’s oil wealth to win influence over other South American nations — earned the ire of the Spanish delegation upon his arrival on Friday.

His description of Spain’s former conservative prime minister Jose-Maria Aznar as a “fascist” prompted current Prime Minister Jose-Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a socialist, to call on Chavez to show more “respect.”

But Chavez forged on, and on Saturday he repeated the contentious f-word in relation to Aznar, adding: “A fascist isn’t human, a snake is