US President Donald Trump on Thursday reportedly questioned why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and “s*hole countries” in Africa.
On Friday, he denied using such phrasing after outrage over the vulgarity of the language. Below are a collection of responses from world leaders, starting with countries Trump allegedly disparaged.
El Salvador’s foreign minister, Hugo Martinez, told The Washington Post, "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." Martinez also added, "Our countrymen are hard-working people, who are always contributing to the countries where they’re living and, of course, also in our country."
In a series of tweets Friday morning, Martinez also pointed out El Salvador’s historic support for the United States in its time of need:
"In this note we highlight the high value of Salvadorans and remember how Salvadoran compatriots were those who worked on the reconstruction of the Pentagon, after the lamentable terrorist attacks of 2001; Salvadorans who contributed to the reconstruction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, those who contributed along with the United States and other nations in various peace missions."
Screenshot from Martinez's Twitter account
"Within the framework of the principles that govern relations between the States," Marinez continued, “El Salvador demands respect for the dignity of its noble and courageous people.”
Haitians reacted with outrage to Trump’s reported remarks to describe the country on the eve of the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake, one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history.
President Jovenel Moise’s government issued a strongly worded statement against what it called a "racist" depiction of Haiti.
“The Haitian government condemns in the strongest terms these abhorrent and obnoxious remarks which, if proven, reflect a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community and its contribution to the United States,” the statement said.
The government statement also looked back into the history, noting that Haitian soldiers fought on the American side against the British in the Revolutionary War and in the War of 1812.
“The relationship between the two countries has been strengthened by the fact that millions of sons and daughters of Haiti have contributed and will continue to contribute to the prosperity and greatness of America,” it said.
Haitian Sen. Yuri Latortue said the reported remarks were also galling because they came just before the United States marks the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on January 15.
"Mr. Trump spits on the assassination of this black American icon, as well as on a whole generation of young people, black and white, who gave their lives in the civil rights movement," he said.
Former Prime Minister Laurant Lamothe said Trump showed "a lack of respect and ignorance" not previously shown by a US president and “the world is witnessing a new low today.”
According to the Washington Post, Haitian Ambassador Paul G. Altidor said the embassy in Washington was flooded with messages from Americans apologizing for Trump’s remark, which he found heartening.
The African Union
According to the Associated Press, the continental body of the African Union (AU) said it was "frankly alarmed" by President 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," AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.
Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, said he was "shocked" by Trump’s comments. Africa and those of African ancestry "deserves the respect and consideration of all," he wrote on Twitter.
Screenshot from Sall's Twitter account
"Unless it was specifically said about South Sudan, we have nothing to say," South Sudan government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told the AP.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress called Trump’s comments “extremely offensive,” while opposition leader Mmusi Maimane said, “the hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.”
Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, called the remarks “unfortunate and regrettable” and hoped that heads of state will reply at an African Union summit later this month.
Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist,” saying the US ambassador had been summoned to clarify whether the country was regarded so poorly after years of cordial relations.
On Twitter, Botswana’s Ministry of International Affairs & Cooperation stated that it had “summoned the US Ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances…”
Screenshot from Botswana government's Twitter account
On Friday, the United Nations human rights office labeled Trump’s words as “racist” and inciting xenophobia.
"These are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States. There is no other word one can use but ‘racist,'" said UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville at a Geneva news briefing.
"You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘s*holes,’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome," he continued. "It’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and destroy the lives of many people."