In response to spat, Chávez to hold Spanish firms `accountable'

Por Venezuela Real - 14 de Noviembre, 2007, 19:38, Categoría: Prensa Internacional

Miami Herald
Novemer 14, 2007

President Hugo Chávez said Wednesday he would force Spanish businesses in Venezuela 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,'' Chávez 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.''

He did not elaborate on what that might mean.

The spat began at a summit in Chile on Saturday when Chávez 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 prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, asked Chávez to be more diplomatic and show respect for other leaders. As Chávez 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,'' Chávez said Wednesday in an interview on state television.

It was unclear how Chávez's comments might affect Spanish businesses operating in Venezuela, but he said Tuesday that investment from the Iberian nation ''is not indispensable'' and mentioned Spanish banks Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA.

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