Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's presence at the Casa Rosada Wednesday was shadowed by a racist remark from Argentine President Alberto Fernández, who said that Mexicans came from the Indians, Brazilians came from the jungle, but we Argentines came from the ships, and they were ships that came from Europe, and that's how we built our society.
Fernández later apologized for his comment but it was too late. Media from all over the world had picked up that line and made it viral, particularly in Brazil and Mexico.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, wrote in his Twitter account, that: ”Argentine President Alberto Fernández said that while his people came by boat from Europe, 'the Brazilians came from the jungle.' Will, they did not say that it was RACIST against the indigenous and African peoples that formed Brazil? However, I say: the sinking ship is Argentina's.”
Most of Brazil's newspapers heavily criticized Fernández words which were found to be racist.
In Mexico, the newspaper Milenio pinpointed Fernández's mistake in trying to quote Mexican writer Octavio Paz (1914-1998). Octavio Paz once wrote that the Mexicans came out of the Indians, the Brazilians came out of the jungle, but we Argentines came from the ships, and they were ships that came from Europe, and that's how we built our society, said the President.
The truth is that the quote belongs to the song “We came from the boats” by Argentine singer Lito Nebbia, of whom Alberto Fernández is a great friend and fan.
And the actual quote from Paz goes like Mexicans descend from the Aztecs, Peruvians from the Incas, and Argentines from ships, without ever mentioning Brazilians.
The President made that statement when referring to the waves of European immigrants that arrived in Argentina in the past - and that made up a large part of the identity of the country's society - and it did not go unnoticed on Twitter, where the labels Alberto, Octavio Paz, national shame and Lito Nebbia became a trend.
Fernández later apologized through his social media accounts. “It was stated more than once that the Argentines we descend from the boats. In the first half of the 20th century, we received more than 5 million immigrants who lived with our native peoples. Our diversity is a source of pride,” he said. “I did not want to offend anyone,” he added as he extended his apologies to whoever might have felt “offended or invisible.”
The question was that with such a repercussion, the presence of the Spanish Prime Minister nearly went unnoticed.
However, Fernández did thank Sánchez for visiting Buenos Aires, and for Spain's support in the debt renegotiation process Argentina is undertaking with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Paris Club.
We will always be by Argentina's side in its conversations with the IMF and the Paris Club. The support is absolute and total, said Sánchez when participating with Fernández in a meeting with Argentine and Spanish businessmen at the Casa Rosada Bicentennial Museum.
Sánchez arrived in Buenos Aires Tuesday evening with a delegation of officials and businessmen, to advance the public and private partnership of the economy of the two countries.
Fernández insisted companies “have all the possibilities to continue investing” in the country as he praised the commitment of Spanish businesses in the country which have “come to stay, to generate work, to produce.
Sánchez highlighted the idea was to strengthen Spanish investment in Argentina, particularly for small and medium-sized companies and that Argentina is a priority for Spain.
Both leaders stood behind the release of anticovid vaccine patents for the good of mankind. We defend the liberalization of vaccines, and that their distribution is expedited, said Sánchez.
Fernández said that the pandemic forces us, beyond the efforts of the countries, to the need for a commitment so that the vaccine is a global asset, and so that technology is released.”
Fernández will travel to France on June 28 at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron to participate in a meeting where gender equality is to be discussed.