[News] Chavez refuses to be silenced
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 12 17:43:36 EST 2007
Chavez refuses to be silenced
By Martin Murphy
BBC Americas analyst
The Ibero-American summit in Chile would have been just another
meeting of heads of state had it not been for the spat between
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Spanish king.
The summit had received little coverage in the regional and Spanish
media until the video of the argument was posted online and shown on
King Juan Carlos carried some responsibility for the affair, but it
was Mr Chavez who set the ball in motion by calling the former
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist.
Labelling a Spanish prime minister a fascist carries a serious
undertone in Spain, considering the country's bloody civil war and
General Franco's 36-year-long military rule that followed.
The row made headlines in Spain and most newspapers highlighted the
fact that the king had told Mr Chavez to shut up.
The Latin American press followed the same line, except for the
official Venezuela daily, Diario Vea, which ignored the incident, and
an article in Juventud Rebelde by Cuban leader Fidel Castro defending
his close friend and ally Hugo Chavez.
This is not the first time that Mr Chavez' outbursts at an
international summit have overshadowed the issues being discussed.
Last year at the UN's General Assembly he called US President George
W Bush "the devil".
None of the other left-wing leaders in Latin America - despite their
ideological affinities with Mr Chavez - are as openly critical and
controversial as the Venezuelan president.
In the video, Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is also a key ally
of Mr Chavez, pokes his head out from the end of the table when the
row breaks out, but does not intercede.
Neither does the Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega, who later used
his speech to attack Spanish companies doing business in Latin America.
It is interesting to imagine what Mr Castro would have said had he
been present at the summit.
No other leader in Latin America except Mr Castro - who has
temporarily stepped down as head of state due to his frail health -
matches the outspokenness of the Venezuelan president.
Mr Chavez, Mr Morales and Mr Ortega later took part in a people's
summit in Santiago, where the Venezuelan president defended his right
to criticise Mr Aznar and again attacked the Spanish king.
Business as usual
For a president whose role model is the Latin American independence
hero Simon Bolivar it was particularly ignominious that a Spanish
king treated him like a schoolboy.
Not only has Mr Chavez now told the king to shut up in return, he
suggested that perhaps he knew about the 2002 coup that briefly
toppled him - the same accusation he threw at Mr Aznar.
But the row is unlikely to hurt relations between the Venezuelan and
It was an ideological confrontation, not a political one.
Spain is one of the biggest investors in Venezuela, especially in the
financial and energy fields.
In 2006, more than 50% of the foreign investment in Venezuela came
from Spanish firms.
And business, not ideology, tends to regulate international affairs.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/11/12 16:13:54 GMT
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