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'Racist' And 'Shameful': How Other Countries Are Responding To Trump's Slur

By Colin Dwyer | NPR
Friday, January 12, 2018

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

One day after President Trump referred to African nations as "shithole countries," adding that the U.S. should want immigrants from countries such as Norway rather than from Haiti or El Salvador, the countries that came in for the president's criticism are offering some responses of their own.

"We are surprised, disappointed. Also, we want to condemn if those statements were made," Paul Altidor, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., told NPR on Friday.

He noted that neither the White House nor the State Department had formally contacted him to clarify whether Trump had indeed made the comments at an Oval Office meeting Thursday. The remarks were relayed to NPR by a Democratic aide and another person familiar with the discussion.

On Friday morning, roughly 15 hours after the comments were first reported by The Washington Post, Trump disputed the details reported about his words in a series of tweets.

"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used," Trump said, referring to the policy he rescinded last year that protected immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

"I never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country," Trump tweeted later, on the anniversary of an earthquake that killed at least 200,000 people in Haiti. "Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!"

After Trump denied using the slur, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was at the White House meeting, said, "It's not true. He said these hate-filled things. And he said them repeatedly."

Though Altidor had not received direct comment from the Trump administration, he noted that "unfortunately we feel once again Haiti finds itself in the midst of a very negative narrative in the U.S."

He added that Haitians had fought in the American Revolution, that it was a Haitian immigrant who has been credited as the "father of Chicago," and that today "in many parts of the [U.S.], Haitians have been great contributors to this country."

"We're hoping this conversation would be an opportunity to address the Haiti conversation in the U.S. once and for all," Altidor said. "But we do regret what allegedly the president said about Haitians and other groups."

Altidor said that if Trump disparaged his and other countries, "you hope there would be possibly an apology, again, for what was said here, because we thought [those comments] were misplaced. They were misguided. And these types of statements do not help in terms of reinforcing the relationship between Haiti and the United States."

But Haiti was not the only country Trump mentioned in the meeting. Here is how some of the other countries are responding on Friday:


African Union

The African Union, which comprises 55 member states on the continent, was "frankly alarmed" by Trump's comments.

"Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice," Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU Chairman Moussa Faki, told The Associated Press.

"This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity," she added in comments to The Independent.

"We believe that a statement like this hurts our shared global values on diversity, human rights and reciprocal understanding."


Botswana

Botswana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation released an extended statement, saying the country had summoned the U.S. ambassador to Botswana "to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances" made by Trump.

"The Botswana government has also enquired from the US government through the Ambassador, to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a 'shithole' country given that there are Botswana nationals residing in the US, and also that some of Batswana may wish to visit the US."

The statement adds that "we view the utterances by the current American President as highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist."


South Africa

The African National Congress, the ruling party in South Africa, tweeted a response citing its deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte.

It is "offensive for President Trump to make derogatory statements about countries that do not share policy positions with the US," the statement read. "Developing countries experience difficulties. The US also faces difficulties."

Elsewhere in the country, South Africa Broadcasting Corporation Leanne Manas showered snark on Trump's remarks.

"Good morning from the greatest most beautiful 'shithole country' in the world!!!" she tweeted.


Kenya

Kenyan politician Boniface Mwangi did not lack for adjectives in describing the U.S. president, telling Americans "your embarrassment of a president is senile, impeach him and save yourselves from never-ending shame."

"How America elected a narcissist, racist, white supremacist to be their president defies logic. Africa sends love and light to America," Mwangi tweeted, adding a blunt hashtag for good measure.


El Salvador

"It's always been a foreign policy priority of our government to fight for the respect and dignity of our countrymen independent of their immigration status," El Salvador's foreign minister, Hugo Martinez, told The Washington Post. "Our countrymen are hardworking people, who are always contributing to the countries where they're living and, of course, also in our country."

In a statement released on Twitter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that the country had aided the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks and contributed to the reconstruction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

"El Salvador demands respect for the dignity of its noble and courageous people," the statement read in part, "according to the principles that govern relations between countries, and in the context of the historic and existing bonds between both nations, which we shall continue to work to strengthen."


United Nations

"If confirmed, these are shocking and shameful comments from the president of the United States. I'm sorry but there is no other word I can use but 'racist,' " Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. commissioner for human rights, told the media in a televised statement.

"You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes,' whose entire populations are not white and therefore not welcome."


Norway

Asked about Trump's comments before a meeting with the U.N. secretary-general, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide declined to answer, simply smiling, shaking her head and moving on.

Editor's note: NPR has decided in this case to spell out the vulgar word that the president reportedly used because it meets our standard for use of offensive language: It is "absolutely integral to the meaning and spirit of the story being told."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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