Bogus Zapatero phone call causes diplomatic row

22nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

22 December 2005, MADRID — Spain was caught up in a diplomatic row with the Vatican and Bolivia over a crank call impersonating Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

22 December 2005

MADRID —  Spain was caught up in a diplomatic row with the Vatican and Bolivia over a  crank call impersonating Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

A prankster pretending to be the Spanish Prime Minister called the new Bolivian president-elect Evo Morales to congratulate him on his victory in Sunday's general election.

But after Morales later told a press conference he had received a call from the Spanish premier, Madrid denied any such call had been made.

It was later revealed the call was made by an impersonator from Spain's Radio COPE station.

The Bolivian embassy in Spain lodged a formal complaint against the station, saying it had "exceeded the limits of humour" and had "offended" the Bolivian people.

It also asked Spain's foreign ministry to "take the proper steps to make reparation" for the prank.

The real Zapatero was forced to call Morales and say the stunt was an "unacceptable" prank.

La Moncloa (Spain's 10 Downing St) said it "totally agreed" with the embassy's request that COPE should apologize and, according to diplomatic sources, is looking into how it can help the embassy with the matter.

Radio COPE is owned by the Espicopal Conference, the ruling body of the Spanish Roman Catholic Church. 

Foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos summoned the Papal nuncio to Spain and told him such stunts were unacceptable.

Radio COPE acknowledged that one of the members of its "Grupo Risa" (Laugh Group) show had carried out the prank.

In a statement, COPE downplayed the seriousness of the incident, describing it as "just another joke" by Grupo Risa. It did not offer an apology.

The station's managers said Morales was overly credulous, and that there were sufficient "hints" in the exchange for him to have realized that it was a joke.

Morales, a Socialist like the Spanish premier, told a press conference that Zapatero had called him to say he was "very pleased" by the leftist's win on Sunday.

The future Bolivian president remarked that Zapatero invited him to travel to Spain "as soon as possible." Morales also said he invited the Spanish leader to his inauguration on 22 January.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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