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Last Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007, 17:29 GMT
Viewpoints: Chavez and King row
Spain's PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the King Juan Carlos of Spain

Spain and Venezuela are in the middle of a diplomatic crisis after King Juan Carlos of Spain told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to "shut up".

The spat began at the Ibero-American Summit in Chile's capital, Santiago, when Mr Chavez called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist.

When current Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero defended Aznar, Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, until the king leaned forward and said: "Why don't you shut up?" before storming out - although he returned later.

The row has escalated during the week. In Venezuela, Chavez has called the king "arrogant" while some of the protesters against his government have adopted the 'why don't you shut up?' as their slogan. Meanwhile, in Spain some defend the king's action, while others accuse him of jeopardising the trade relations between the two countries.

These are the views from six of our readers in Spain and Venezuela:


Student protests in Caracas
Protesters have adopted the king's phrase as their chant.

The expression 'why don't you shut up?' has become a popular slogan. On Monday, Caracas was full of posters. Student protesters have adopted it as their chant, and you can find various cartoons, songs and ringtones alluding to the subject on the web.

I would love to be able to defend Chavez and feel offended by the king's remarks, but I can't! The king said what most of us have wanted to say for a long time. We have been listening to his diatribes every Sunday, which go for hours and hours... When he insults anyone who is not with him, when he humiliates our student protesters... We all want to say 'why don't you shut up?'

Unfortunately, President Chavez will never listen to the diversity of voices from students, business people and the people in general who are opposing his constitutional reform. It's about time that someone told him what many of us think of him.


Recently, the king's prestige had fallen between sectors that were traditionally monarchic.

Some republicans have also made their protests more evident by things like burning his image.

But the king's reply to Chavez has improved his image within that conservative sector. This is why I think he did the right thing.

I think he said what other leaders had always wanted to say to Chavez, he deserved it.

And it serves to prove that, if the Spanish government will not defend its standing on the international scene, there is someone willing to it for them.

After four years of weakness and national confusion, the PM faces a general election and is trying to show a new moderate image. But now he is getting what he was looking for.


Eddy Rodriguez

This recent impasse is related to a sensitive issue for us Venezuelans.

We led a long and bloody struggle to liberate ourselves from the Spanish Empire. Still, we have always had a good relationship and we respect the Spanish people.

The king had an arrogant attitude... If you watch the video, you will see how the discussion was between President Zapatero and President Chavez.... why did he feel he could mediate on the debate? Why did he lose his composure and insult President Chavez?

This leads me to a conclusion. There is a visceral hate of everything Chavez represents. A fear that the have-nots will get to power through him and other like-minded leaders in Latin America.

I disagree with the king's conduct and I will never cease to defend our President and being a Venezuelan.


Antonio Rabanera

The idea that the king's actions have been applauded in Spain is not accurate.

I live in Spain and most of the politicians and journalists are criticising the monarch's manners and referring to what happened as his "unfortunate remark."

The whole diplomatic team is now working to restore the relationship with Venezuela because there are many Spanish companies investing in Venezuela's market and thousands of Spanish families living in the country.

The incident is the last of a string of controversy on the monarchic institutions, like the recent arrests of people burning images of the King, and the issuing of fines for cartoons of members of the royal family.


President Hugo Chavez at the summit
Chavez called former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar a 'fascist'

As a Venezuelan, I am ashamed of the fact that Chavez creates controversy wherever he goes.

It is very difficult to understand how someone who had so much support at one time can now generate so much hatred.

I also think this will damage the relationship with a country with which we have very important economic interests.


I think the incident has been politicised to extreme, maybe because Hugo Chavez is a polemic figure. But I think the issue is very clear. You have to keep the form on this type of meetings and, just like PM Rodriguez Zapatero said at the time, in any democracy respect for all opinions is essential.

Everyone has their turn to speak, and we don't all necessarily have to think like Chavez... Or does he think that he holds the universal truth and that he is the only one with the right to speak?

Independently from the political legitimacy of Chavez and the reforms he is leading on his country, he just cannot go to a summit and interrupt everyone else.

I don't know if the king's reaction was right or wrong. I do want to say, though, that he has legitimacy as a Head of State, because the two most voted political parties support the monarchy, and thus he has the support of the majority of voters.

It seems some political leaders tend to forget this.

Spain king 'arrogant' says Chavez
14 Nov 07 |  Americas
Spain seeks to defuse Chavez row
13 Nov 07 |  Americas
Chavez refuses to be silenced
12 Nov 07 |  Americas
Shut up, Spain's king tells Chavez
10 Nov 07 |  Americas
Profile: Hugo Chavez
04 Dec 06 |  Americas

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