Brazilian women are probably ashamed of President Jair Bolsonaro, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, hitting back after the Brazilian leader mocked his wife, Brigitte, on Facebook.
The leaders have been feuding in recent weeks, with Macron blaming Bolsonaro for fires in the Amazon and accusing him of lying about climate change policy.
Bolsonaro responded on Sunday to a Facebook post that compared the looks of his wife Michelle, 37, with Macron’s 66-year-old wife Brigitte.
“Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?” a Bolsonaro supporter wrote next to an unflattering picture of Brigitte, 66, who is 29 years older than Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle.
“Do not humiliate the man hahahah,” Bolsonaro responded, in a comment widely criticised as sexist.
Asked about the incident at a news conference in Biarritz on Monday where G7 leaders gathered for a summit, Macron said the comments were “extraordinarily rude”.
“It’s sad, it’s sad first of all for him and for Brazilians,” Macron said. “Brazilian women are probably feeling ashamed of their president.”
“Since I have a lot of esteem and respect for the people of Brazil, I hope they will very soon have a president who is up to the job,” Macron added.
Later on Monday, Bolsonaro denounced Macron’s plan for an international alliance to protect the Amazon, saying on Twitter that Macron’s “ludicrous and unnecessary attacks on the Amazon” were unacceptable and accused him of treating the region “as if we were a colony or no man’s land”.
He also said his government was in conversations with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque to create a “joint plan between the majority of the countries that make up the Amazonia to guarantee our sovereignty and natural wealth”.
– Não podemos aceitar que um presidente, Macron, dispare ataques descabidos e gratuitos à Amazônia, nem que disfarce suas intenções atrás da ideia de uma “aliança” dos países do G-7 para “salvar” a Amazônia, como se fôssemos uma colônia ou uma terra de ninguém.
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) August 26, 2019
‘Our house is burning’
Brazil was angered after Macron, in the run-up to the G7 summit, tweeted a photo of the burning Amazon forest, writing: “Our house is burning. Literally.”
Macron said he had been lied to by Bolsonaro over his commitments to fighting climate change.
In July, Bolsonaro cancelled a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian – getting a haircut instead.
Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has railed against the enforcement of environmental regulations in Brazil and announced intentions to develop the Amazon region, where deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest by loggers, ranchers and speculators has surged this year.
As of Sunday, Bolsonaro had authorised military operations in seven states to combat raging fires in the Amazon, responding to requests for assistance from their local governments, a spokeswoman for his office said.
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is seen as vital to the fight against climate change because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide it absorbs.
It provides 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen, is home to an estimated one million indigenous people from up to 500 tribes as well some three million species of plants and animals, including jaguars, sloths, giant otters, river dolphins, howler monkeys, toucans, reptiles, frogs and insects.