Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is a “bad Brazilian” whose environmental activism has harmed the country’s image abroad, the nation’s new Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said on Monday.
Dias, who was the leader of the farmers’ caucus in Congress before being appointed to the Environment Ministry by newly elected far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, was responding to a question about Bündchen’s criticism of government attempts to take away environmental protections.
“It’s absurd what they do today with the image of Brazil,” Dias said in an interview with a conservative radio station. “For some reason they go out and paint a picture of Brazil and its industries that is not true.”
Dias said that instead Bündchen “should be an ambassador and say that your country conserves, that your country is on the global vanguard of conservation, and not go around criticizing Brazil without knowing the facts.”
After her interview, Dias sent out a tweet saying, “I said that Gisele Bündchen could be an ambassador for Brazil to show that we produce agriculture for the world while preserving the environment. The model will soon receive our invitation.”
Bündchen is a UN environmental goodwill ambassador who has spoken out against proposed legislation to open 1.5 million acres of Amazon rainforest, accusing the government of auctioning off the Amazon to the private sector. The Bolsonaro administration has received harsh criticism from environmentalists for its policy that the Amazon should be more open for development.