Brazil’s Bolsonaro Bans Bic Pens “Because They’re French” As Macron Feud Escalates

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As one of the most entertaining contemporary diplomatic spats drags on, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (who, like President Trump, is known for his sometimes outrageous commentary) reportedly said Friday that he would no longer use Bic pens to sign official documents “because they’re French.”

The background: Bolsonaro and French President Emmanuel Macron have been feuding since the latter criticized the former over his handling of the wildfire “crisis” in the Amazon. Macron started by accusing Bolsonaro of lying about who caused the wildfires, then Bolsonaro accused Macron of “insulting” him by raising a whopping $25 million from the G-7 to help with wildfire relief. Since then, the two have been regularly exchanging barbs, the AFP reports.

And in the latest round, Bolsonaro said he would stop using pens made by the French company, and use pens made by Brazilian company Compactor instead.

“A pen (of the Brazilian brand) Compactor and no more Bic, will work,” Bolsonaro said.

When asked by reporters whether Bolsonaro was joking, or being serious, the Brazilian government declined to comment.

If Bolsonaro truly does intend to abandon pic, it looks like the joke is on him: Most of the Bic ballpoint pens sold in Brazil are made at a factory in the Brazilian city of Manaus (which is situated in one of the country’s Amazonian regions). Previously, Bolsonaro said he and his government would start using Bic pens, which are cheap and widely used, as part of their plan to cut back on government expenses and waste.

Bic refused to comment on Bolsonaro’s comments (though, in what appears to be a subtle snub of the Brazilian president, the company’s spokesman said Bic felt “flattered” to be recognized as a “democratic” brand).

As for the feud between the two leaders, there’s little hope for detente in sight: Bolsonaro is refusing to speak with Macron unless the French president first apologizes to him for his remarks.

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