MMA legend and Brazil’s tourism chief Renzo Gracie threatened to choke French President Emmanuel Macron in a social media rant this week, spending much of Tuesday fielding off French hecklers on Twitter and telling them to “learn Portuguese.”
In a video circulating social media, Gracie reacted angrily to comments made by Macron about President Jair Bolsonaro’s supposed lack of action over fires sprawling through the Amazon Rainforest, many believed to be manmade attempts at clearing land for cultivation. Macron has accused Bolsonaro of not being sufficiently concerned about nature and threatened to veto a trade deal between Brazil and the European Union.
“The only fire going on is the fire inside Brazilian hearts and our president’s heart, you clown,” Gracie said, addressing Macron, in the video. “Come over here you’ll be caught by the neck, that chicken neck. You don’t fool me.”
The jiu-jitsu icon went on to describe Macron’s wife Brigitte as “ugly” and suggested he was “sleeping with the dragon.”
“That gang of clowns only open their mouths to speak badly about our country,” he continued. “I’ll ask you a question, is his wife pretty or ugly? Would you do her? If you criticize our country, get ready to listen to a load of bullshit, and also about your relatives.”
“The fact that he is sleeping with the dragon does not make him a fire expert. She’s ugly, my brother,” he said.
The French consulate responded to the video by hinting that Gracie had drunk too much alcohol.
“Liquor should be consumed in moderation, and the tie knot adjusted,” the consulate wrote on Twitter. “Not to mention table manners.”
— Le Consul de SP 🇷 (@LeConsulDeSP) September 1, 2019
Gracie has since been fielding a barrage of condemnation from French Twitter users outraged at his personal attacks. At least one user challenged him to a martial arts fight, to which he replied, “Want to own our lands? Learn Portuguese.”
Gracie has long been a fervent supporter of Jair Bolsonaro, even awarding him an honorary black belt for jui-jitsu in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, despite his reported lack of experience in the sport.
— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) October 7, 2018
Gracie’s array of personal insults follow accusations that Bolsonaro himself personally attacked Macron by responding to a Facebook meme suggesting that Macron was jealous of his Brazilian counterpart’s wife Michelle.
“Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?” read the meme, comparing the two women side by side.
“Don’t humiliate the guy, lololololol,” Bolsonaro responded.
Yesterday a @jairbolsonaro supporter posted a meme mocking the appearance of Brigitte Macron and comparing her unfavourably with #Brazil first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, with the tagline: "Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?" pic.twitter.com/px3tvoZ2SL
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 26, 2019
Bolsonaro later tried to backtrack on his post, but by that time Macron had made clear that he took it as a personal insult, arguing that Brazilian’s should be “ashamed” of their president’s lack of respect.
“He made extraordinarily disrespectful comments about my wife,” said Macron. “What can I say? It’s sad. But it’s sad, above all, for him and the Brazilians. I think that Brazilian women, without a doubt, are ashamed of their president.”
“Brazilians expect that when one is the president, that one behaves well in relation to others. And as I have much respect and admiration from the Brazilian people, I expect that very soon they will have a president that behaves up to their expectations,” he added.
“I didn’t post that picture,” Bolsonaro later contended, insisting he was scolding the user for posting the meme. “Someone put the picture there and I told them not to talk bullshit. I don’t want to go there. Personal matters, family, I don’t go there … I respect the guy [Macron] to not go there.”
The diplomatic dispute began after Macron criticized Bolsonaro’s response to the wildfires, insisting that the international community should be allowed to intervene in an attempt to reduce their impact. Macron proposed a $20 million donation from G7 states, an offer that rejected by Bolsonaro, with his Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzon accusing the French leader of having a “colonialist” mindset and failing to address problems in his country.
“We are grateful, but maybe these resources would be more relevant to use to reforest Europe,” Lorenzoni told G1. “Macron couldn’t even prevent a foreseeable fire in a church that is a World Heritage Site and he wants to teach our country, what [exactly]? He has a lot to take care of at home and in the French colonies. Brazil is a democratic, free country, and never had colonialist and imperialist practices like the Frenchman Macron perhaps would like.”
Bolsonaro indicated last week that he would reconsider the offer if Macron withdrew his insults against him. “First of all, Mr. Macron has to retire the insults he has hurled against me,” said Bolsonaro. “He called me a liar. First, withdraw, then offer, then I will respond.”