03:46 GMT17 April 2021
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    Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes reignited President Jair Bolsonaro’s spat with French President Emmanuel Macron, repeating the Brazilian president’s insults about Macron’s wife Brigitte.

    In a speech to businessmen in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, Guedes complained about the media coverage of the Bolsonaro administration, arguing that they prefer to report on the president’s comments rather than the country’s progress.

    “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.”

    After the audience laughed, the minister said, also laughing: “There’s no such 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.”

    The incident came amid the spat between Macron and Bolsanero over Brazil’s treatment of the fires burning in the Amazon. Macron recently threatened to scrap the trade deal agreed between the European Union and Mercosur, the South American customs union, unless Brazil did more to preserve the Amazon rainforest.  Bolsonaro responded that the notion of prioritizing the matter was "reminiscent of [a] colonial mindset [that was] inappropriate in the 21st century.”

    The conflict between the two presidents got more personal after Bolsonaro earlier cancelled a meeting in Brasilia with the French foreign minister at the last minute in favour of having his hair cut during a Facebook Live. Shortly afterwards, on the eve of last month’s G-7 summit, 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, who posted a sarcastic comment on a social media post mocking Brigitte Macron’s physical appearance. Macron 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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