Port-au-Prince (AFP) – Haiti has denounced what it said were “racist” remarks from former US president Donald Trump that migrants from the island nation entering the United States would put Americans at risk of contracting AIDS.
“So we have hundreds of thousands of people flowing in from Haiti. Haiti has a tremendous AIDS problem,” Trump said in a Thursday interview on Fox News.
“Many of those people will probably have AIDS, and they’re coming into our country and we don’t do anything about it, we let everybody come in,” he said. “It’s like a death wish for our country.”
According to World Bank data, HIV prevalence in Haiti has been steadily declining for the past 15 years, and is now estimated at a rate of 1.9 percent among Haitians aged 15 to 49.
The Haitian embassy in Washington condemned the “racist and baseless statement about Haitian migrants, in particular, and the Haitian population, in general, of Donald J Trump.”
“These vile comments aim only to sow hatred and discord against immigrants,” the embassy said in a statement Friday.
The mid-September arrival of more than 30,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, who camped out for days under a bridge on the border between Mexico and Texas, has brought US President Joe Biden’s administration under fire from Republicans.
They accuse the president of having caused the surge by relaxing the hardline migration policies implemented by predecessor Trump.
Over the course of less than three weeks, more than 7,500 Haitian migrants — 20 percent of them children — have been deported by US migration services, which have chartered 70 planes to the capital Port-au-Prince and to Cap-Haitien, the island’s second-largest city.
After Trump’s comments, the Haitian embassy said that “civilized people… should not remain indifferent to this umpteenth denigration of the Haitian people by former President Trump.”
During a private meeting in January 2018, Trump had referred to Haiti and several African nations as “shithole countries.”