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Chávez watch: Spanish king tells him to shut up

The Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile, on November 10 ended on a heated note after the Spanish king told Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, to "shut up".

The outburst was preceded by Chávez referring to the former Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar, as a "fascist". Chávez had also said in a speech to leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal: "Fascists are not human. A snake is more human."

Later, Spain’s socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, responded by urging Chávez to be more diplomatic with his choice of words and to recognize that the former prime minister had been the elected choice of the Spanish people.

Chávez repeatedly tried to interrupt, but his microphone was turned off.

But the attempted interruptions riled Spanish King Juan Carlos, seated next to Zapatero, who angrily turned to Chávez and said: "Why don’t you shut up?"

Since this public spat, relations have deteriorated further, with Chávez’s supporters, saying the king lowered his dignity, displaying 500 years of Spanish arrogance. In contrast, those against Chávez have made a small fortune of $2 billion from the sale of ringtones that repeat the Spanish king’s words. However, Juan Carlos is yet to receive the level of insults that Chávez has fired at George W Bush, the US president, which include comparing him to "the devil" and calling him "Mister Danger".

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