Friday, April 20, 2012

The Sad Case of King Juan Carlos

I've always respected King Juan Carlos of Spain. After General Franco's death in 1975, Juan Carlos successfully oversaw the transition of Spain from a dictatorship to a parliamentary monarchy. He is also credited with foiling an attempted military coup in 1981 and protecting Spain's newly formed democratic institutions. In 2007, Juan Carlos made international headlines when, at the Ibero-American Summit in Chile, he told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to "shut up." (As usual, President Chavez had been monopolizing the conversation and interrupting the Spanish Prime Minister.)

Juan Carlos and Guide Standing in Front of the Kill
Last week, it was revealed that the King had gone elephant-hunting in Africa after photographs of the King holding a gun beside dead elephants and water buffalo surfaced. 

The King who is the honorary President of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund quickly apologized for his "mistake." Mistake?  It wasn't a mistake -  the King deliberately went to Africa and set out to kill elephants, and like many public figures these days, the apology sounds more like he is sorry that he was caught rather than sorry for what he did.

Apparently, Spaniards can't decide which is worse - whether the King might have spent public money on his African safari or whether it was right for him to kill defenseless elephants. In any case, there have been calls for the King's abdication. For what it's worth, you can add my name to the list of people wanting the King to go!

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