Inflatable love doll gift to minister sparks furor in Chile

Chileans are in an uproar over a Cabinet minister being given an inflatable sex doll with a note saying "to stimulate the economy" taped over its mouth.

The furor erupted after photos of Economy Minister Luis Cespedes posing with the blow-up doll circulated on social media.

President Michelle Bachelet herself weighed in on Twitter, calling the joke gift misogynist and an affront to her government's goal of promoting respect for women.

Cespedes was given the doll by Roberto Fantuzzi, head of the Chilean exporters association Asexma, at its year-end dinner. The largely male politicians and business leaders present, including former Organization of American States leader Jose Miguel Insulza, laughed as a smiling Cespedes posed with the naked female doll on his arm.

In Chile, it is a tradition for the leader of Asexma to give creative gifts to guests at its annual dinner, but some attendees scrambled to distance themselves from the gift after social media exploded with charges of sexism. They said Fantuzzi went too far.

"One laughs because one is in awkward situation, but we are all aware that it was a blunder that we are sorry for," said Alejandro Guiller, a dinner attendee who may run for president in 2017 for the governing party.

Cespedes said he was sorry Wednesday, and Insulza "lamented and rejected" what had happened at the dinner.

"I think that beyond asking for forgiveness, this demonstrates that in Chile there is still machismo, sexism and in some cases even misogyny," Bachelet tweeted.