Sat, Sep 07, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Brazil minister insults Macron’s wife, reignites feud


Activists take part in a demonstration against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Brazilian Minister of Economic Affairs Paulo Guedes reignited Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s spat with his French counterpart after he repeated the Brazilian leader’s insults about Emmanuel Macron’s wife.

In a speech to businessmen in Fortaleza, Brazil, Guedes complained about media coverage of the Bolsonaro administration, saying that rather than report on the country’s progress, it focused on the president’s outrageous comments.

“What I see in the newspapers is that he insulted [Michelle] Bachelet, or that he called Macron’s wife ugly,” he said. “He did say that and it’s true — the woman is indeed ugly.”

As the audience laughed, the minister shushed them and said, also laughing: “There’s no such a thing as an ugly woman, there’s only women seen from the wrong angle.”

Guedes later apologized for what he called a “joke” involving Brigitte Macron.

“The minister’s intention was to show that relevant and urgent issues for the country don’t receive the space they deserve in the public debate,” read his statement to the press. “There was no intention to express personal offenses.”

Yet the insults risk real-world damage, given the state of relations between Brazil and France.

Emmanuel Macron recently threatened to scrap the trade deal agreed between the EU and Mercosur, the South American customs union, unless Brazil did more to preserve the Amazon rainforest.

While few other EU leaders agree with his idea of ditching the agreement, Bolsonaro risks alienating the moderate European politicians who still need to ratify the deal. Many lawmakers in Germany and Ireland are already reluctant to do so.

Brazil’s relationship with France began to nosedive after Bolsonaro canceled a meeting in Brasilia with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian at the last minute in favor of having his hair cut during a Facebook livestream.

Shortly afterward, on the eve of last month’s G7 summit, Emmanuel Macron tweeted his concern about the fires burning in the Amazon and called for an international response, prompting an angry reaction from the Brazilian president.

Bolsonaro subsequently posted a sarcastic comment on a social media post mocking Brigitte Macron’s physical appearance.

The French leader called the comment “extraordinarily disrespectful to my wife” and added that he hoped the Brazilian people would soon have a president worthy of them.

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