Mayor of Sao Paulo's wealthy wife mocked for saying all poor people want is a hug

Bia Doria (left) with Marcia Campos at the Dior fashion show at Espaco Klabin Segall. Photo / Getty Images
Bia Doria (left) with Marcia Campos at the Dior fashion show at Espaco Klabin Segall. Photo / Getty Images

The wife of Brazil's answer to Donald Trump has become the laughing stock of the country after she gave an interview - while driving in her Porsche - detailing how she felt poor people just wanted a hug, and likening herself to Eva Peron.

Bia Doria, a 56-year-old artist, is married to Joao Doria - a wealthy businessman who starred in Brazil's version of The Apprentice, before being elected as mayor of Sao Paulo last week. He, like Mr Trump, campaigned as a transformational businessman, rather than a politician, and challenged the establishment.

But his glamorous blonde-haired wife has already managed to embarrass him, with an interview appearing in Sunday's edition of the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper which has been derided as crass and ignorant.

"I always felt like Eva Perón, because I'm more of the people - I feel like one of the people," she said, while driving her Porsche Cayenne around the smartest neighbourhoods of Brazil's biggest city.

"I've always got on really well with more humble people. Sometimes it's just a squeeze of the hand; sometimes they want a hug."

Brazil remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, and her comments were seen as a sign of how out of touch the country's elites remain. Despite improvements in recent years, over 60 per cent of Brazil's wealth is held by the richest population decile, according to Allianz's Global Wealth Study for 2016, published last month.

Mrs Doria, who creates sculptures from bronze, wood and marble inspired by Brazilian nature, continued the interview saying that more must be done to combat inequality - a problem she said was exemplified by maids not knowing how to clean properly, and staff turning up for work malnourished.

"This inequality has to be reduced. You can't have an employee arriving in the studio with nutrition problems," she said. "Imagine how happy I would be if a chambermaid arrived already knowing how to do things. Very few of them do."

She referred to one favela as "Ethiopia", and then told of her own good works - explaining how she had supported her own staff.

"They all lived in shacks and did not have any teeth," she said.

"I managed to get a house for all of them, gave them teeth and a good health plan. Today they are happy and even think they are artists because they are my assistants."

And, despite the city's notorious traffic problems, Mrs Doria said she did not mind being stuck in jams while in her Porsche, because she could look at WhatsApp and Instagram - and showed off a photo of a female friend surrounded by Hermes bags, with a glass of champagne in hand.

Brazilians reacted with shock and scorn.

"Hallelujah!" said Palmerio Doria, a Brazilian writer and journalist, unrelated to his name sake. "Bia Doria, by magic, has resolved the social problem: all the poor want is a hug and a handshake."

Another Brazilian joked: "Don't cry for me Jardim Europa!" - a play on the name of the luxurious neighbourhood where the Dorias' mansion is located, and the Evita theme song, Don't Cry For Me Argentina.

"Congratulations to the ghost writer who put Bia Doria's answers into the Folha interview," tweeted Xico Sa, a well-known journalist and author.

"A genius of fiction - this can't be real."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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