President López Obrador has been criticized on social media after he bestowed a new title on United States Vice President Kamala Harris and appeared to mispronounce her name.
AMLO, as the president is best known, welcomed Harris to the National Palace in Mexico City on Tuesday for a bilateral meeting on issues including migration, security and trade.
When Harris arrived at the seat of executive power, López Obrador welcomed her as “president” rather than “vice president.” In addition, he addressed the 49th vice president of the United States as the masculine presidente rather than the feminine presidenta, according to some social media users and media reports.
López Obrador has also received flak for mispronouncing the vice president’s first name, Kamala, as “Kabala.” Whether he actually replaced the “m” in Kamala with a “b” is unclear and questionable, but that didn’t stop Mexican media from having a field day with the apparent mispronunciation.
“Welcome, ‘Presidente Kabala’” said a headline in the El Universal newspaper. “¿Presidente Kabala? AMLO changes the position and name of Kamala Harris,” derided El Financiero.
Whether AMLO actually calls Harris presidente is also debatable. Take a listen, make your own mind up and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below (available to subscribers).
But the president’s alleged list of faux pas didn’t end there. He was also chastised for not wearing a face mask.
“KABALA, nice to meet you. AMLO without a face mask #languagewithoutwords,” one Twitter user wrote.
“The first two words that López Obrador said to the vice president were errors,” another Twitter user said. “1) She’s not a presidente. 2) Her name isn’t Kabala.”
According to a column in the newspaper Reforma, the president made no fewer than six protocol errors when welcoming Harris to the National Palace. He got Harris’ title wrong; he used the incorrect masculine term presidente; he didn’t formally welcome her to Mexico, saying only mucho gusto (nice to meet you); he got her name wrong; he failed to address her by her first name and surname and he wasn’t wearing a face mask although she was.
AMLO acknowledged on Wednesday that he misspoke by calling Harris “president” but didn’t admit any other errors.
“It was a very good meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris. It was so good that I called her ‘president,’ I got it wrong, … I’m not infallible,” he said.