Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has reiterated his drive to stop using ballpoint pens made by France's Bic to sign official documents.
"A pen [of the Brazilian brand] Compactor and no more Bic, will work,” Bolsonaro said on Friday, echoing his previous remarks made during a live broadcast on Facebook that he would reject Bic “because it is French.”
Brazil's presidential office has declined to comment on whether Bolsonaro was serious or joking.
French Ambassador to Brazil Michel Miraillet responded by recalling that despite its French origin, most of the Bic disposable pens sold in Brazil are made in the French company's factory in the Brazilian city of Manaus in the Amazon.
Sim, o BIC é francês 🇫🇷... mas ele também é brasileiro 🇧🇷! O BIC é um dos principais empregadores de Manaus e provavelmente centenas de colaboradores ficarão surpresos com o fato de essa realidade ainda não ter atingido o @Planalto pic.twitter.com/a72x4DXS41— Michel Miraillet (@mraillet) August 30, 2019
“Probably hundreds of people working there will be surprised to know that Brazil’s presidential administration is not in the know about this fact,” he tweeted.
Bolsonaro highlighted his use of cheap Bic pens to underscore his adherence to austerity in contrast with the lavish expenses incurred by his predecessors.
Bolsonaro's latest outburst come amid his war of words with French President Emmanuel Macron which began last week following Bolsonaro’s criticism of Macron’s calls to discuss the ongoing Amazon rain forest fires during the G7 summit.
“I regret that President Macron seeks to use internal affairs of Brazil and neighbouring countries for his own political purposes […]. The French President’s proposal to discuss this issue at the summit which does not involve Brazil or other regional countries resembles colonialist mentality which is inappropriate in the 21st century,” Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Macron had berated his Brazilian counterpart for not following his obligations to combat climate change, also accusing him of lying about his commitment to fight the deforestation.
The two’s diplomatic showdown got personal after Bolsonaro allegedly reacted to a Facebook photo that mocked Macron’s wife with the comment “Do not humiliate the man hahaha.”
Macron, in turn, described Bolsonaro’s alleged comment as “extremely disrespectful” to France's First Lady Brigitte Macron, while expressing hope that “the people of Brazil […] will very soon have a president who is up to the job.”
The current area of the Amazon fires has already exceeded by 82 percent the total territory affected by all fires in the region in 2018. The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research estimates that a total of 1,663 new fires were registered in the country just last week, half of them in the Amazon basin.