AlbertoFernandezWorld News

Alberto Fernandez: Argentine president apologises for Brazil comments

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image captionAlberto Fernandez (R) has been hosting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L)

Argentina’s president has apologised for saying that Brazilians were “from the jungle” in remarks about his country’s European heritage.

“The Mexicans came from the Indians, the Brazilians came from the jungle, but we Argentines came from the ships and they were ships that came from Europe,” Alberto Fernandez said.

The statement – a quote from a song – caused a storm on social media.

Mr Fernandez later said his country’s diversity was a source of pride.

He made the controversial remarks as he and visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met business leaders in Buenos Aires.

Mr Fernandez said he was quoting the Mexican poet Octavio Paz, but commentators later said the offending phrase was taken from a song by Argentine musician Lito Nebbia, of whom the president is a keen admirer.

“I am a Europeanist. I am someone who believes in Europe,” Mr Fernandez said.

The statement was aired on Brazilian media, drawing a tweet from right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro that included a photograph of himself wearing a native head-dress among a group of indigenous people.

The only text in the tweet was the word “Selva” (jungle) in capital letters.

Mr Bolsonaro’s son, the congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, called the comments “racist” and highlighted Argentina’s troubled economy.

“I say the ship that is sinking is that of Argentina,” he tweeted.

Mr Fernandez later backtracked, saying: “In the first half of the 20th Century we received more than five million immigrants who lived with our native peoples. We are proud of our diversity.”

He added: “I did not mean to offend anyone, in any case, whoever has felt offended… I give my apologies.”

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