President Donald Trump’s complaints about immigrants coming to the United States from “shithole countries” have prompted condemnation from around the world.
US Democratic and Republican lawmakers criticized those comments as “divisive” and “unacceptable,” while Haiti summoned the top American diplomat there to discuss Trump’s remarks.
Trump’s reported comments, made at closed-door White House talks on an immigration deal, were a reaction to a plan to cut the number of people entering the United States through its visa lottery program.According to CNN sources, lawmakers proposed reducing the number by half, with the rest going to underrepresented countries in Africa and nations with temporary protected status, or TPS.
UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville condemned Trump’s remarks as “shocking and shameful” and going against the world’s “universal values.”
“I’m sorry, but there’s no other word one can use but racist,” Colville said, responding to reporters at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
Trump on Friday denied describing certain nations in such vulgar terms, tweeting: “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.”
The furor comes as Haiti prepares to commemorate eight years since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed hundreds of thousands and displaced many more.
As a result of that disaster, Haitians were accorded TPS in the United States, granted to individuals from countries where conditions such as war, natural disasters or political strife prevent them from returning safely.
Haiti’s government said in a statement Friday that it is “deeply shocked” and strongly condemns these “abhorrent and obnoxious remarks” by Trump, which “if proven would be entirely unacceptable because they reflect a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community.”
The statement also stressed that Haiti has a long history of friendship with the United States.
“The Haitian government calls for the respect and dignity of all people” and the preservation of its relationship with the United States, which values solidarity, altruism and the “respect of differences” for people all over the world.
Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said, “SHAME ON TRUMP! “The world is witnessing a new low today” and called Trump’s remarks “totally unacceptable!”
“It shows a lack of respect and ignorance never seen before in the recent history of the US by any President,” Lamothe tweeted.
With the US ambassadorship in Haiti vacant, Robin Diallo, the charge d’affaires at the embassy, was to meet Friday with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, a senior State Department official told CNN.
Haiti’s US envoy, Paul Altidor, condemned what he called Trump’s “misguided” remarks in an interview with NPR, saying he was “surprised and disappointed” and hoped there might be an apology for his country.
The Trump administration announced late last year it would end the TPS designation for Haiti, a move that could affect tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced it would also end protections for more than 200,000 Salvadorans.
Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez responded by tweeting about his countrymen’s contributions to the United States, saying “a good part of those who helped rebuild New Orleans after Katrina were Salvadoran. I feel proud to be Salvadoran.”
Meanwhile, American diplomats and the US Embassy in San Salvador sought to assure Salvadorans of their respect for the country.
Jean Manes, US ambassador to El Salvador, tweeted in Spanish: “I have had the privilege to travel around this beautiful country and meet thousands of Salvadorans. It is an honor to live and work here. We remain 100% committed.”
The official account for the US Embassy in San Salvador also tweeted in Spanish: “The United States is proud to be a partner of El Salvador and we remain firm in our friendship that dates back various decades.”
Nepal, which became a TPS nation after a major earthquake in 2015, said authorities were discussing their response.
Nepalese Foreign Minister Bharat Raj Paudyal told CNN that “we are aware of President Trump’s comments, and our ministry is discussing the matter.”
A senior official from Somalia, also on the US list of TPS nations, told CNN that Trump’s comments were unworthy of a response.
“It sounds like fake news to me,” Somali Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman said by phone from Mogadishu. “If it’s real, it doesn’t need a response. Those comments do not deserve a response.”
On Twitter, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime Trump critic, said the US leader’s mouth “is the foulest shithole in the world.”
“With what authority do you proclaim who’s welcome in America and who’s not. America’s greatness is built on diversity, or have you forgotten your immigrant background, Donald?” he asked.
Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who’s now president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said the Trump administration is “leading a race to the bottom on refugees and immigrants that is a betrayal of America’s future as well as of its history.”
There was also fierce reaction from people on the African continent to Trump’s remarks.
The government of Botswana said it had summoned the US ambassador to the southern African nation to “express its displeasure” over Trump’s reported comments, which it views as “highly irresponsibly, reprehensible and racist.”
The government said it had also asked the United States to “clarify if Botswana is regarded as a ‘shithole’ country.”
“I am shocked by the words of President Trump on Haiti and Africa,” Senegalese President Macky Sall said in an official tweet.
“I reject them and condemn vigorously. Africa and the black race deserve the respect and consideration of all.”
African Union spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said Trump’s reported comments were alarming and surprising, particularly “given that so many Africans arrived in the US as slaves.”
“It is, frankly, upsetting,” she said. “Our relationship with the United States goes beyond the statement of one man, however, though he is the highest office bearer of that land.”
In Kenya, Saum Ramadhan, a 23-year-old engineering student at the University of Nairobi, told CNN she found Trump’s comments “very offensive, because I think most countries in Africa are pretty stable and we are doing good.”
She added: “There might be some struggles, but I think we are doing good. I don’t think it’s fair to classify all Africa as shitty. That is absolutely wrong.”
Duncan Owor, a medical student from Central Kenya, said it was “not the right thing for him to do,” given his status.
“He is the President of the United States of America. We expect more of him. We expect him to be an example. We are growing democracies. We don’t expect such remarks,” Owor said.
Kenyan activist and politician Boniface Mwangi said that “how America elected a narcissist, racist, white supremacist to be their president defies logic.”
“Africa sends love and light to America,” he added.
Cartoonist Victor Ndula tweeted an image of a “shithole” map of Africa he produced for Kenya’s The Star newspaper.
Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi remarked on Twitter, “Africa isn’t a shithole. It’s the most beautiful continent in the world. Beautiful, hardworking people. We have diamonds, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum, cocoa, coffee, tea etc. Sadly we have #shithole leaders like Trump shitting on us everyday.”
South Africa’s best-known morning-news anchor, Leanne Manas, tweeted, “Good morning from the greatest most beautiful ‘shithole country’ in the world!!!”