Royal Insult Echoes Persecution Of Christ, Says Venezuelan Leader
Rory Carroll in Caracas and Paul Hamilos in Madrid
Hugo Chávez is not shutting up. Venezuela's president stepped up his verbal counter-attack against the Spanish king yesterday by comparing his wounded pride to the suffering of Jesus Christ and Latin America's colonial oppression.
Three days after Juan Carlos urged Chávez to "shut up" at a summit it was the latter doing all the talking while the king retreated into silence. The "explosion" of royal disdain betrayed an enduring colonial superiority complex, the president said upon his return to Caracas. It echoed not only 500 years of imperial power and abuse, but also the persecution of Christ.
Should he accept the king's injunction to shut up, "the stones of the people of Latin America would cry out", said Chávez, paraphrasing a comment by Christ in Jerusalem shortly before his crucifixion. The Venezuelan information ministry issued press releases identifying the relevant part of the Bible.
The self-styled socialist revolutionary also suggested that Juan Carlos, whom he referred to as "Mr King", supported a coup which briefly ousted him in 2002. At a reception in the royal palace in Madrid - Juan Carlos's first public appearance since the summit - the king made no reference to Chávez's allegations.