President Hugo Chavez demanded Friday that the king of Spain apologize for publicly telling him to "shut up" in a spat that has soured relations between the two nations and could endanger Spanish investment in Venezuela.
"The king of Spain, he has to offer some type of apology because he attacked me," Chavez said in an interview on state television Friday. "I'm not going to ask him to get down on his knees, but to in some way recognize that he went too far, that he did something inappropriate."
King Juan Carlos exclaimed, "Why don't you shut up?" at a summit in Chile last weekend, as Chavez tried to interrupt Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Zapatero was urging Chavez to show respect for other leaders after the Venezuelan called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a "fascist."
Chavez has since warned that Venezuela doesn't need Spanish investment and that Spanish companies operating in the country will be held more accountable as a result of the spat. He has mentioned Spanish banks Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA by name.
Spanish diplomats have suggested settling the matter with mutual respect and by toning down the rhetoric. But Chavez said Spain will have to recognize it erred.
"I don't want this to keep growing more serious, but the king or the Spanish government should in some way recognize that they were the ones at fault and that they attacked us. We aren't the aggressors," Chavez said.
Chavez suggests king backed coup
The leftist leader accuses U.S.-allied Aznar of backing a 2002 coup that briefly ousted him from office. On Friday he suggested the king could have condoned the putsch as well.
Chavez said that during the coup, the Spanish ambassador recognized the interim leader who briefly became president, before military loyalists returned Chavez to power.
"Could it be that the king knew about the coup too and gave the green light?" Chavez said, suggesting Spain's ambassador must have had the king's blessing at the time.
Chavez said he didn't hear the king during the heated exchange at the summit, because he was focused on responding to Zapatero.
"The king was lucky," Chavez said. "If I had heard him, I might have answered him ... shot an arrow at him like an Indian."