Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rough Week for Spain's Royal Family

The subtle ebbs and delicate flow of international diplomacy this week experienced the equivalent of a nuclear meltdown involving the urbane King Juan Carlos and the rough and tumble president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. No idea which kingly etiquette book of protocol its in, but telling another head of state to SHUT UP is not de rigueur. Not satisfied his honor was fully in the mud, Chavez is publicly searching for reason to keep a relationship with Spain. Spanish CEO's are thunderstruck their business interests (cha ching, the banks) may be in jeopardy after the verbal brawl.

King Juan Carlos vs President Hugo Chavez
Once upon a time, on a Saturday in Santiago, two men met as heads of state at an Ibero-American summit. One man was royalty the other received a promotion to president as the singular candidate on the ballot. In Chile, the machismo showdown erupted when Chavez called a George Bush supporter a fascist stretching decorum to the breaking point. The object of Hugo's disaffection was Spain's former Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar. Current PM, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, stood up to protect and defend the honor of his predecessor noting with aspersion that he was democratically elected by the people and it was legitimate. Ouch, score a direct hit for the Spanish team.

Then, Hugo sensing he was not the beau at the ball, started interrupting the rebuttals. The King's outrage could not contain his inner regalness to just his deeply derisive body language, demanded an answer to why Hugo could not shut up. Basta! zip it! The King did not condescend to await a reply, but left the scene in high dungeon to audience cheers for his smackdown of the Venezuelan. Hugo Chavez is not done talking though the King dismissed him, he's holding press conferences now to impugn the king's motives. Irony isn't Chavez's strong suit.

"[The king] disrespected me, and he was laid bare before the world in his arrogance and also his impotence," Mr Chavez told a news conference on Tuesday, before adding: "We don't want this to become a political crisis."

He went on to say that Spanish commercial interests in Venezuela were not indispensable and hinted that they could be affected if the dispute worsened.

"Spain has many investments, private companies here and we don't want to damage that, but if they are damaged, they are damaged... We don't need it," he said.

Hugo Chavez feeling a mite martyrish, likened himself to Jesus Christ in being persecuted by the Spanish King. His knowledge may need some serious buffing up with a good (and patient) Spanish tutor because it was the Roman's with Christ. The Spanish had this inquisition thing he apparently doesn't know about or the dictatorship of General Franco in Spain. A-W-K-W-A-R-D...

Now we come to more troubles for the King as his palace stationary had to share that his and Queen Sofia's eldest daughter's marriage is taking a break, on holiday, the fairytale is kaput. The husband of Princess Elena will fade into the shark infested business world to make money. (Suggestion, maybe he can be the guy to repair things with the other outcast President Chavez.) Meanwhile, comics were fined for making fun of Crown Prince Felipe in a cartoon of him having sex with wife Letizia with a caption saying it was the first work he had done. Oh my! This is in reference to the baby price Spanish citizens get for successful pregnancies outlined by Zapatero.

Things are not tranquil on the Spanish domestic political front as rebellious Catalans demand independence while burning photos of the King. There went some perfectly good glossies. Morocco's head of state used more diplomatic language in referring to the King & Queen's well publicized trip to Ceuta & Melilla, which Morocco believes are theirs. King Mohamed referred to last week's trip as "regrettable". Oh dear.

Seems the Spanish Royal Family is ensuring the English Windsors were not the only royal family to enjoy mud facials.

Spanish history professor Paul Preston wrote the well researched biography, Juan Carlos: Steering Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy. It has the remarkable onliner upon his birth from his mom, " He is as ugly as sin."

Onward to Hugo Chavez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela's Controversial President by Cristina Barrano and Alberto Barrera.

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