US actress Cameron Diaz apologised Sunday for wearing a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories in Peru. The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated "Shrek" films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru's Andes on Friday wearing an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words "Serve the People" printed in Chinese, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong's most famous political slogan.
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 apologise 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. On Friday, one prominent Peruvian human rights activist said Diaz should have been a little more aware of local sensitivities when picking her accessories. In Sunday's statement, the star of "There's Something About Mary" said the purpose of her visit was to participate in a television show that celebrated Peru's culture.
The actress has been in Peru as part of "4 REAL," a Canadian TV production that focuses on young community leaders around the world. "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."