Spain's king to Venezuela's Chavez - "shut up"
Spain's King Juan Carlos told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday to "shut up" during closing speeches by leaders from the Latin world that brought the Ibero-American summit to an acrimonious end.Meanwhile, back in Venezuela, there was another protest against Chavez today, but at least this time none of his thugs shot anyone.
"Why don't you shut up?" the king shouted at Chavez, pointing a finger at the president when he tried to interrupt a speech by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Zapatero was in the middle of a speech to the summit of mostly leftist leaders from Latin America, Portugal, Spain and Andorra, and was criticizing Chavez for calling former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist.
Chavez, a leading leftist foe of Washington, also attacked Spanish businessman Gerardo Diaz Ferran earlier in the week after he questioned the safety of foreign investments in Venezuela.
"I want to express to you President Hugo Chavez that in a forum where there are democratic governments ... one of the essential principles is respect," Zapatero told the leaders gathered in the Chilean capital, Santiago.
"You can disagree radically, without being disrespectful," Zapatero, a socialist, said sternly, drawing applause from some of the other heads of state.
Chavez, a former soldier, made his mark on the three-day summit from the start, announcing his arrival earlier in the week with defiant lyrics from a Mexican ballad.
"With the truth in hand, I do not offend, I do not fear," Chavez said on Saturday. "The government of Venezuela reserves the right to respond to any aggression."
Hundreds of Venezuelan opposition sympathizers marched peacefully in Caracas on Saturday to protest President Hugo Chavez's constitutional reform proposal after several violent demonstrations in recent days.Even decapitated mannequins came out against Chavez today.
At least seven people have been shot over the last week in clashes sparked by the leftist leader's plan to lift presidential term limits as part of a broad constitutional overhaul meant to create a socialist state in the OPEC nation.
"We all have to unite against violence and against the reform," shouted student leader Freddy Guevara from a stage set up for the event.
The small demonstration was heavily guarded by police officers.
The recent clashes have boosted concerns that violence could mar the upcoming December 2 referendum to approve the constitutional changes. Pollsters say Chavez is likely to win the vote.
UPDATE: Check out this item from the LA Times.
While President Hugo Chavez has been molding Venezuela into his personal socialist vision, other transformations -- less visible but equally profound -- have taken hold in the country.Jeff Spicoli was unavailable for comment.
Venezuela has become a major hub for international crime syndicates. What attracts them is not the local market; what they really love are the excellent conditions Venezuela offers to anyone in charge of managing a global criminal network.
A nation at the crossroads of South America, the Caribbean, North America and Europe, Venezuela's location is ideal. Borders? Long, scantly populated and porous. Financial system? Large and with easy-to-evade governmental controls. Telecommunications, ports and airports? The best that oil money can buy. U.S. influence? Nil. Corrupt politicians, cops, judges and military officers? Absolutely: Transparency International ranked Venezuela a shameful 162 out of 179 counties on its corruption perception index. Chavez's demonstrated interest in confronting criminal networks during his eight years in power? Not much.