Whether President Trump actually called it a “shithole” country or not, Haiti has hired Mercury Public Relations to provide a diplomatic facelift for one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
As The Hill reports, Mercury filed notice of its work on Haiti’s behalf with the Department of Justice.
In its filing to the DOJ, Mercury indicates that it will massage Haiti’s “print, television, radio, and digital media presence by crafting their narrative and amplifying their message … [and] placing stories, booking media appearances, preparing talking points/media advisories.”
The contract stipulates that Mercury will only be doing PR work on behalf of Haiti and “shall not include any lobbying activities (national or local) whatsoever.”
Fulton Armstrong, who represents the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University, told The Hill that Haiti is seeking “image survival more than anything else during the Trump administration.”
Trump denied making any reference to shithole and Haiti in the same breath, but other reports suggest that Haiti is far from Trump’s favorite travel destination. At one White House meeting in 2017, Trump allegedly claimed that all 15,000 Haitians who visited the U.S. that year “all have AIDS,” according to a New York Times report. The administration said there was no mention of AIDS in the discussion.
But the controversy really erupted in January when the president was examining the countries of origin of the many immigrants who seek to come to the U.S. and allegedly asked why so many were coming from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and many African nations.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to a Washington Post source. “Take them out.”
Trump addressed issue, assuring readers that he had “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out,'” alleging that Democrats fabricated the comments. “I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians.”