While visiting Peru to participate in a Canadian television production about young leaders around the globe, Cameron Diaz inadvertently offended locals by carrying a bag with a red star and Mao Zedong’s political slogan “Serve the People” printed in Chinese.
As in the case of some celebrities who have had tattoos in languages they don’t understand and then subsequently the press reveals it is actually something they probably wouldn’t want inked into their skin – it’s best to be cautious wearing things printed in a language you don’t read.
The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some world capitals, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.
“I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended. The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China and I did not realize the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it,” Diaz said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.
“I’m sorry for any people’s pain and suffering and it was certainly never my intention to reopen what I now know is a painful wound in this country’s history,” she said.
Diaz also spoke of Peruvians’ beauty and warmth and said she wished “for their continued healing.”