Spanish-Venezuelan Spat Continues As Both Try to Calm Issue

While officials from Venezuela, Spain, and other countries continued to argue over who was right in the diplomatic spat between Spain and Venezuela last weekend, Spain's President Zapatero tried to calm the waters by saying that he is confident relations will be normalized soon.
Venezuelan President speaks to reporters at the airport upon his return to Venezuela (Prensa Presidencial)

November 13, 2007 ( – While officials from Venezuela,
Spain, and other countries continued to argue over who was right in the
diplomatic spat between Spain and Venezuela last weekend, Spain's President Zapatero
tried to calm the waters by saying that he is confident relations will be
normalized soon.

A spokesperson
for the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, Rodolfo Sanz, rejected the comments of
Chilean Foreign Minister, Alejandro Foxley today, who criticised Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez after a diplomatic row erupted at the Ibero-American
Summit in Chile, when Chavez called former Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria
Aznar a "fascist" and accused him of playing a role in the 2002 military coup
in Venezuela.

Prime Minister
of Spain, Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero, responded
at the Summit, asking Chavez to show "respect", however when Chavez interrupted
asking why Aznar has not shown respect to the Venezuelan people, the
king of Spain, Juan Carlos, reacted angrily, saying "why don't you shut

The king
later stormed out of the room during a speech by Nicaraguan President, Daniel
Ortega, who also criticised Spanish and US interference in the region.

Foxley, who
said the relationship between Spain
and Chile was more important
than Chile's relationship
with Venezuela, expressed his
support for the Spanish king and argued that Chavez "can disagree with whatever
he wants in the Summit,
but he should not disrespect people."

In response
Sanz said today, the truth should not offend, "And the truth is that anyone who
supports a fascist coup, as did former president Aznar in April 2002, is a
fascist." "What offence can exist in this qualification?" added Sanz.

While Nicaraguan
President Daniel Ortega, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Cuban
Vice-President Carlos Lage supported Chavez,
abstained from taking a position.

in Spain, the conservative opposition
Popular Party (PP) of ex-president Aznar called for "diplomatic measures" against
such as recalling the Spanish ambassador. The PP says the Zapatero government
is responsible for what occurred at the Ibero-American Summit, because of its
"policy of mistaken alliances" in Latin America.

the Spanish Workers Socialist Party (PSOE) of Prime Minister Zapatero
classified the call as "absurd" and "outlandish" and affirmed that the incident
will not effect relations between the two countries.

Elorriaga, communication secretary of the PP also attacked Spanish Foreign
Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, who also previously alleged that the Aznar
government had supported the coup d'état in Venezuela in 2002, affirmations
that, Elorriaga argues "coincide exactly" with the words of Venezuelan
president Hugo Chávez.

Elorriaga then failed to explain why Manuel Viturro de la Torre, former Spanish
Ambassador to Venezuela
under the Aznar government, along with US Ambassador Charles Shapiro, met
with and immediately recognized the 48 hour coup government of dictator Pedro
Carmona Estanga.

Llamazares, general coordinator of Spain's United Left coalition,
affirmed yesterday the existence of "documents and information that attribute
the former government – lead by Jose Maria Aznar – with not only not condemning
the coup, but also collaborating to change the democratic regime for a

also denounced the "excesses of interference" of Spanish diplomacy under the
Aznar government, in interfering in electoral processes on Latin
America. Spain
should not have a "neo-colonial relation with Latin
America" Llamazares added.

In Venezuela,
the opposition applauded the king's comments, apparently cheering and giving
each other "high fives." However, Chavez's supporters, who turned out in their
thousands to meet him as he returned to Venezuela
at the Simon Bolivar International
Airport on Sunday, reacted
with indignation.

attitude of the king is simply another demonstration of fascism,
authoritarianism, and the medieval era that he represents, through his
arrogance…he lacked respect for the Venezuelan people, it was the only thing
he could say in the face of the truth, he didn't have any other arguments,"
said Rafael Pino from Caracas.

Carbaño from San Juan de Los Morros questioned the authority of Juan Carlos to
make such pronouncements. "A king imposed by the dictatorship of General Franco
has no moral or political authority to silence the President of Venezuela," she

In 1969
Juan Carlos was formally designated Prince of Spain and heir apparent to fascist
dictator, General Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos often performed official and
ceremonial state functions alongside Franco before proclaiming a constitutional
monarchy after the dictator's death in 1975.

The President
of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Cilia Flores, said that Chavez was correct
to defend the dignity and sovereignty of Venezuela.

During a press conference today,
President Chavez said he hoped the spat would disappear, but that if it didn't,
it would not do any harm to Venezuela.
"We don't want this to become a
political crisis," said Chavez. Also, "Spain has many investments, private
companies here and we don't want to damage that, but if they are damaged, they
are damaged. Spanish investment in Venezuela is not indispensable."

Also today, Spain's
Foreign Minister said, "I don't believe it should affect relations with Venezuela."

Asked to comment on the spat by journalists in Spain, Prime
Minister Zapatero also said that he believed relations between the two
countries would soon be normalized.