Oddly Enough

Spain's king cannot shut Chavez up but bladder can

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez would not shut up for Spain’s king but, over the weekend, he heeded a higher calling to stop talking -- his bladder.

Surrounded by a throng of reporters at an OPEC summit in Saudi Arabia, the president, who enjoys the media spotlight and often answers questions at length, excused himself.

“Look I have to go,” Chavez said in comments aired on Venezuelan state television. “For a while now, I have needed to go to the bathroom and I am going to pee ... Do you want me to pee on you?”

King Juan Carlos set off a diplomatic spat that threatens Spanish investments in Venezuela, a major oil producer, when he told Chavez at a summit in Chile earlier this month to “shut up.”

Chavez, who had called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist, has vowed to keep on talking and has dedicated many hours to rebutting the monarch at public events, news conferences and media interviews.

Venezuelan officials say Chavez is on television an average of 40 hours a week. He says he drinks coffee all day and he sips from a small cup during hours-long speeches.

So in Venezuela there is puzzlement, even awe, that Chavez usually avoids being seen going to the bathroom during his weekly TV show that can last up to 8 hours.

But caught out a few months ago, he told the audience he had to leave -- to do something “you can’t do for me.”

Reporting by Patricia Rondon; Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and John O’Callaghan