So Chavez went to his own Damascus (the one for 2008, he seems to have a new Damascus every year). The King of Spain is the one who said "¿Por qué no te callas?" but it is Chavez who makes a special trip to the summer Palace of Juan Carlos in the Baleares Islands. The symbolism is lost on no one except perhaps on some of the most sycophantic of chavistas.
It is fun to read El Pais of Spain, who in normal times would be sympathetic to a leftist government and who instead gives a cold reading of the days event, which is pretty much the equivalent of a total condemnation of Chavez, kind of like not hitting the man on the ground.
We learned among other things that Venezuela will sell a modest 10 000 barrels a day to Spain at 100 USD. The price difference would be offered in "technology assistance", whatever that means. Yesterday London, today Madrid, the price to put your foot in your mouth.
If the reception was cordial, Chavez did not get any Photo-Op besides the king on the steps of the palace, though Marivent Palace is a favorite of the ¡Hola! crowd. Chavez being Chavez, he could not resist to ask the King to split the royalties for the Por que no te callas.... Hands were shaken, a few discrete taps on the shoulders, that was all. Chavez had been told how far the king would go..... A fashion note: the King was in a light beige summer suit whereas Chavez was in a dark formal suit, stressing even more who was the penitent here. Who advises Chavez on protocol, and fashion and "message"?
Chavez trying desperately to put a "bon mot" asked "¿Por qué no nos vamos a la playa?", why don't we go to the beach? Well, considering that he is a llanero and he has never been known to like the beach, or known to behave there going as far as ruining a pair of pants on an Alo Presidente wading on sea water, nobody was fooled, not El Pais, not Venezuelan media. Tonight El Ciudadano poked fun of Chavez all through the show using beach music... Not to mention that Globovision replayed once and again lovingly the list of the diverse verbal aggressions that Chavez did against Zapatero and the king.
All in all it was a diminished Chavez, tail between his legs that we saw. A Chavez so chastised by the Reyes computers (links between ETA and FARC and Venezuela?), so humbled by his many mistakes, so resentful to be left alone by the people who really matter that he has a serious need to restore some foreign image, the more so that November elections look more difficult than originally thought. And the more so if he needs to do some cheating next November. Better have the world forget about him a little: apologizing is a good way to get a respite.
In my opinion, never has Chavez looked so lonely, so ill advised as he looked today. If he had a real good foreign staff (well, he does not have one since he does so many mistakes, but let's pretend) he would have been advised not to go to Marivent. He would have been advised to wait a little bit longer, to reestablish first a good relationship at level of foreign minister. But Chavez is Chavez and he just could not wait to figure again on foreign stages and thus he paid the price to return to the middle of the picture. He has a fat check book, it does help to speed up fake "reconcilaitions".