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Regal "Shut Up" Becomes a Cult Ringtone

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A diplomatic spat has become an unlikely cult hit and turned into a popular ringtone and social meme. Last week, at a conference of Spanish speaking countries, the Ibero American Summit in Santiago de Chile, King Juan Carlos I of Spain pointed his finger at Venezuelan President Hugo Ch vez and asked him, "Por qu no te callas " (Why don't you shut up ). Despite organizers turning off Ch vez's microphone, he had continued interrupting the Spanish prime minister, Jos Luis Rodr guez Zapatero, while the latter was defending his predecessor and political opponent, Jos Mar a Aznar, after Ch vez had referred to Aznar as a fascist.

The comment "por qué no te callas?" has gone on to become a cult slogan and can be heard ringing out from mobile phones from Miami to Caracas - as well as appearing on t-shirts, and as a greeting amongst teens. The repost was particularly insulting as it used the familiar "you" which should only be used amongst close friends as opposed to the formal "you" which would have been more polite between the two men.

A domain name - porquenotecallas.com is selling for a sizeable sum on eBay, having reached US$4,600 at time of writing - doubtless the owner will use it to sell ringtones and accessories.

''I knew the phrase would make history, but I never imagined it would get so much commentary,'' Juan Antonio Morales, 34, of Almeria, Spain told the MiamiHerald newspaper after he quickly registered the domain name after news broke of the Spanish King's outburst.

The ringtone has proven particularly popular in Venezuela itself, where political protests and an independent media have been curtailed by the President as part of his Bolivarian Revolution designed to create a 21st century socialist state.

On the web: eBay auction page

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