Argentine President Alberto Fernández has sparked a Twitter storm and a regional race debate with erroneous comments to visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who sought to play the South American country’s ties to Europe.
“The Mexicans came from the Indians, the Brazilians came from the jungle, but we Argentines came from the ships. And it was ships that came from Europe, ”Fernández said, referring to the many European migrants who arrived in the country. He later apologized for the comments, saying his country̵
Fernández appears to have taken the phrase from a song by local musician Lito Nebbia, of which the president has declared himself admired on more than one occasion.
The comments sparked a viral response on social media, with many criticizing the center-left leader for racial insensitivity.
“I did not mean to offend anyone, in any case anyone who has felt offended or invisible, I apologize,” he said on Twitter.
Brazilian media ran Fernandez’s statements on Wednesday, and many on social media joked that right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro would enjoy coming back to the left-leaning Argentine leader, whom he has not always kept an eye on.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, a congressman and son of the Brazilian president, slammed the comments as “racist” and shot a return to Argentina over its troubled economy in recession since 2018.
“I say the ship that sinks is Argentina,” he wrote on Twitter.
Web users on YouTube posted responses during a video of the speech expressing anger or unrest.
“Excuse me, Mexican and Brazilian friends, on behalf of all Argentines, we feel a lot of embarrassment. You know how much we love you and your countries and customs, ”said a user named Barbara Bongiovanni.