The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, has unleashed a storm on Twitter and a regional racial debate with misjudged comments to the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, who sought to play with the South American country’s ties with Europe.
“The Mexicans came from the Indians, the Brazilians came from the jungle, but the Argentines came from the ships. And they were ships that came from Europe, ”Fernández said, referring to the many European migrants who arrived in the country. He later apologized for the comments and said that the diversity of his country was something to be proud of.
Fernández seems to have taken the phrase from a song by local musician Lito Nebbia, of whom the president has declared himself an admirer on more than one occasion.
The comments sparked a viral response on social media, with many criticizing the center-left leader for his racial insensitivity.
“I did not mean to offend anyone, in any case, who has felt offended or invisible, I apologize,” he said on Twitter.
Brazilian media published Fernández’s remarks on Wednesday and many on social media joked that right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro would enjoy taking revenge on the left-wing Argentine leader, with whom he has not always agreed.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, a congressman and son of the Brazilian president, criticized the comments as “racist” and responded to Argentina for its troubled economy, in recession since 2018.
“I say that the sinking ship is that of Argentina,” he posted on Twitter.
Netizens on YouTube posted responses below a video of the speech, expressing anger or discomfort.
“Excuse me, Mexican and Brazilian friends, on behalf of all Argentines we are very ashamed. You know how much we love you, your countries and customs, ”said a user under the name Barbara Bongiovanni.