Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday he would force Spanish businesses to be more accountable due to a spat in which Spanish King Juan Carlos told him to shut up during a summit.
"We don't want to damage (relations), but right now I'm reflecting deeply on our political, diplomatic and economic relations with Spain" Chavez said. "That means Spanish companies are going to start being more accountable, and I'm going to watch them to see what it is they are doing here, all the Spanish companies that are here". The spat began at a summit in Chile on Saturday when Chavez accused former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of backing a coup that briefly removed him from power in 2002 and repeatedly called Aznar "fascist." Spain's current president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, asked Chavez to be more diplomatic and show respect for other leaders. As Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, the King leaned forward and said: "Why don't you shut up?" "It's difficult to have good relations with a president who comes out to defend a fascist and disregard the truth and with a King who ... tries to ride roughshod over a nation's dignity" Chavez said Wednesday in an interview on state television from the city of Barquisimeto where he led a pro-constitution reform march. It was unclear how Chavez's comments might affect Spanish businesses operating in Venezuela, but he said Tuesday that investment from Spain "is not indispensable" and mentioned corporations such a Spanish banks Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA. Meanwhile in Caracas Venezuela's former Defence minister, once a top ally of Chavez, urged the president to scrap plans for the constitutional reform amid rising tension. "Mr President, for the country's sake, withdraw this proposal and thereby guarantee ... the peace and stability of our nation," retired general Raul Baduel said at a news conference. Baduel urged Venezuelans to "massively vote no" at the December 2 referendum on the proposed constitutional changes that would further boost Chavez's powers. The former minister had earlier compared Chavez's plan to change the constitution to a coup. The president responded by calling him "a traitor". Baduel had played a key role in returning Chavez to power following a short-lived coup in 2002. The reformed constitution would allow Chavez to stand for re-election indefinitely, and would allow him to declare a "state of exception" and curtail the media. Students across Venezuela have led street protests against the proposed reforms. Some of the demonstrations ended in clashes with police, and three people suffered gunshot wounds last week and an armed group, thought to be militant Chavez supporters, opened fire on students returning from a protest.
Top CommentsDisclaimer & comment rules
Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!