Latin America & Caribbean

Chile politicians condemn president's 'sexist' joke

President Pinera at the Summit of the Pacific Alliance in Merica
Image caption President Pinera has been criticised for gaffes in the past

Politicians in Chile have criticised President Sebastian Pinera for a joke he told at a summit on Monday.

Senator Ximena Rincon said the president had embarrassed Chile with his "prehistoric and sexist remark".

President Pinera asked what the difference between a politician and a woman was, saying a politician meant "No" when he said "maybe", while a woman meant "maybe" when she said "No".

President Pinera had told the joke at a heads of state meeting in Mexico.

"Do you know what the difference between a politician and a lady is?" President Pinera asked at the closing meeting in Tuxtla.

"When a politicians says 'Yes', he means 'maybe', when he says 'maybe', he means 'No', and if he says 'No', he's not a politician," he continued.

"When a lady says 'No', she means 'maybe', when she says 'maybe', she means 'Yes', and if she says 'Yes', she's not a lady'," he said, as some in the audience laughed.

'Shameful remark'

Opposition Senator Ximena Rincon said the president had brought shame on Chile and asked him to outline his government's view of women.

"Remarks like these are an affront to women and an embarrassment for this country, in terms of gender politics, they set us back some 20 years," she said.

She also asked Women's Minister Carolina Schmidt to comment.

Ms Schmidt wrote on her Twitter account that the president liked to crack jokes, but that this one had not amused her.

Former women's minister and opposition politician Laura Albornoz called the remark "unfortunate" and said she hoped President Pinera would "recognise his mistake, as such remarks send a contradictory signal about the defence of the rights of women".

It is not the first time President Pinera has come under fire for his behaviour abroad.

Last year, during an official visit to Germany, he wrote the historically charged slogan "Deutschland Ueber Alles" into the guest book of German President Christian Wulff.

President Pinera later apologised for writing the phrase, which is generally associated with Nazi Germany.

It has historically formed part of the first verse of Germany's national anthem, but it is no longer sung, having been dropped after WWII because it was considered too nationalistic.

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