SANTIAGO, Chile – The Ibero-American summit ended on an unusually heated note Saturday, when an angry verbal spat culminated with the king of Spain telling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to "shut up."
Chavez, the outspoken leftist leader who called U.S. President George W. Bush the "devil" on the floor of the United Nations last year, triggered the exchange by repeatedly referring to former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "fascist."
Aznar, a conservative and a close Bush ally who backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, "is a fascist," Chavez said in a speech to leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal. "Fascists are not human. A snake is more human."
Spain's current socialist prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, responded during his own allotted time by urging Chavez to be more diplomatic in his words and respect other leaders despite political differences.
"Former President Aznar was democratically elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate representative of the Spanish people," he said, eliciting applause from the gathered heads of state.
Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, but his microphone was off.
Spanish King Juan Carlos, seated next to Zapatero, angrily turned to Chavez and said, "Why don't you shut up?"
The Venezuelan leader did not immediately respond, but later used time ceded to him by his close ally Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to answer Zapatero's speech.
"I do not offend by telling the truth," he said. "The Venezuelan government reserves the right to respond to any aggression, anywhere, in any space and in any manner."
Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage also backed Chavez, saying that "a president's legitimacy stems not only from his election by voters ... he must also be legitimate in the exercise of power."