King in fine fettle at Iberoamerican summit

“Here I am, a bit crippled but fine,” the monarch says

King Juan Carlos joked about his health on Friday as he welcomed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to the 22nd Iberoamerican Summit in Cádiz, in southern Spain. “Here I am, a bit crippled but fine,” he told Santos as he leaned on a crutch that he uses following a hunting accident last April.

The monarch has been traveling the world in recent months to ensure a high attendance at the event after the fiasco of last year’s near-deserted summit in Paraguay. Six Latin American leaders declined the invitation, including Argentina’s Cristina Fernández, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Cuba’s Raúl Castro, while Federico Franco of Paraguay was asked to stay home to avoid a boycott from neighboring countries. Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega announced at the last minute that he would not come. Sources said the reason is a recent poetry prize awarded by Spain to his former fellow revolutionary Ernesto Cardenal, a fierce critic of his regime.

Former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar unexpectedly showed up in the company of the Colombian leader.

In the hours prior to the inauguration, the foreign ministers of the 22 participating countries worked on a draft of the final declaration, which focuses on economic relations between both sides of the Atlantic. The economic crisis will take up much of the two-day summit at a time when Spain and Portugal need to streamline relations with Latin America to find new markets for their struggling businesses.

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