efe-epaMadrid

Spain's foreign minister came under a barrage of criticism Thursday after having been fined for insider trading and then making tone-deaf comments about the extermination of native Americans, with some lawmakers calling for him to quit or be fired.

Opposition politicians as well as some Catalan separatists were in particular incensed with Josep Borrell after he was fined $33,980 early in the week by Spain's stock market regulator for insider trading, and then disapproval increased when it was discovered he had said the United States had been born with almost no history behind it except that it had killed what he referred to as four Indians.

"Last Monday I referred in an excessively colloquial way, which I regret, to the almost annihilation of Native Americans in the present-day US by the colonizers," Borrell said by way of an apology in a statement late Wednesday.

"This was done in the context of explaining that setting up a federal union in North America was easier than in Europe because, apart from sharing the same language, the original colonies had not fought bloody wars among themselves for centuries, which is what happened in the Old World. Instead, they engaged in the killing of the original inhabitants of North America," he added.

Borrell said the killings had been done in large numbers "and should not be belittled. All my respect and sympathy to the Native American community," he added.

Both the left-wing Podemos party and the center-right Ciudadanos described Borrell's original words as "unworthy, unacceptable and deplorable."

The Catalan European Democratic Party, also known as the Catalan Democratic Party or PDeCAT said it would ask Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez if he was planning on dismissing Borrell.