A private sin, said Miguel de Cervantes in defence of his great creation Don Quixote, doesn’t get someone in trouble in this world as much as an act of public indecency does. The question is: who was being indecent during the 17th Ibero-American Summit in Santiago on Saturday? Venezuelan President Hugo ‘I’m Simon Bolivar’ Chavez who described former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in his speech as being a “fascist”? Or Spanish King Juan Carlos de Borbon who butted in to say, “Por que no te callas?” — in its less rude English translation: “Why don’t you shut up?” Hmm, close call here.
While the Spanish King seems to have lost his royal plug, Mr Chavez did his usual thing by cheesing someone — a non-proletarian to be sure — off. At first, the Venezuelan President reacted to King Juan’s outburst with moderate jest. Comparing the angry king to a bull, he responded later that he would have said ‘Ole!’, but how could one bull-fight with a king. On a less jocular note, Mr Chavez, famous for stringing all the world’s anti-capitalistic and anti-imperialistic beads together in one choker, went on to suggest that the king and the previous ‘fascistic’ government surely must have been ‘aware’ of the coup d’etat against his government in Chile in 2002.
For someone who hadn’t got any proper platform to air his views on the matter — that the earlier Spanish government being supported by Spanish corporations who sponsored the coup in Caracas — the king’s outburst that resulted from Mr Chavez’s remarks has provided good coverage. The King may have lost his nerve, but the realpolitik scoreline reads: Hugo Chavez 1 King Juan Carlos 0.