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Americas

‘Brazil deserves better’: Macron scolds Bolsonaro for insulting wife Brigitte

media French President Emmanuel Macron on the final day of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019. Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron has rebuked Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro for "extraordinarily rude" insults against his wife Brigitte on Facebook. The comments come as the G7 summit was wrapping up in Biarritz and as France put pressure on Brazil for its handling of fires in the Amazon.

"He has made some extraordinarily rude comments about my wife," Macron told a press conference in Biarritz on Monday.

"It's sad. It's sad him, most of all, but also for Brazilians. I have much affection and respect for the Brazilian people, and I hope that very quickly they will have a president who behaves like one,” the French president said.

In a comment to a video Bolsonaro posted on his Facebook page of aircraft fighting widespread fires in the Amazon jungle, a follower of the Brazilian president posted photographs of the two presidents with their respective wives.

“You understand now why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?” reads the text beside images unfavourably comparing Brigitte Macron, 66, to Michelle Bolsonaro, 37.

To the follower’s suggestion that the feud was due to “jealously on the part of Macron”, Bolsonaro replied “don’t humiliate the guy. LOL”.

Asked by AFP whether Bolsonaro himself was responsible for the post, a spokesperson of the Brazilian presidential office replied “we have no comment to make”

American investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil and reported on mass surveillance working with whistleblower Edward Snowden, also reacted to the comment.

“I didn’t believe it’s real,” Greenwald tweeted. “But yes, the President of the world’s fifth most-populous country, in the middle of the worst crisis of his presidency, is reading through his Facebook comment section and joining in with random followers to mock Macron’s wife.”

Bolsonaro’s entourage attacks Macron

The Amazon forest fires have pitted France and other European nations against Bolsonaro, who has made no secret of his climate scepticism and has pledged to increase exploitation of the Amazon rainforest.

Macron made the Amazon wildfires a major talking point at the G7 summit in southern France this weekend.

Paris accused Bolsonaro of lying in a pledge to fight global warming at June’s G20 summit and said it would oppose the eventual approval of a free trade deal between the European Union and South American trade bloc Mercosur.

Bolsonaro called in the military to fight the fires, but also accused Macron of having a “colonialist mentality”, and members of his entourage multiplied their attacks against the French president at the weekend.

Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo retweeted a video titled “Macron is an idiot”, showing images of clashes between French police and Yellow Vest protesters on Friday, calling it “a message” to the French leader.

And on Sunday, Brazilian Education Minister Abraham Weintraub wrote “Macron is not up to the debate” on the Amazon forest in a tweet that also included Nazi remarks.

“He’s just an opportunistic cretin looking for the support of the French farming lobby,” the tweet read.

Bolsonaro cancels meeting for haircut

Relations between France and Brazil have deteriorated since Bolsonaro became president.

Last month, Bolsonaro cancelled a meeting in Brasilia with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to get a haircut, which he broadcast live on Facebook.

The cancellation appeared to be motivated by Le Drian’s meetings with Brazilian NGOs critical of Bolsonaro.

The Brazilian president has also accused non-profits of deliberately starting fires in the Amazon after their funding was cut.

Macron and his administration became involved in a similar spat with Italy’s two deputy prime ministers earlier this year, with Paris briefly recalling its ambassador to Rome over a series of insults.

(with newswires)

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