U.S. envoy who challenged anti-gay Zambia now protests vs. U.S. in Haiti

The U.S. diplomat who challenged homophobia in Zambia two years ago has now resigned in protest from his new post in Haiti.

Ambassador Daniel Foote. (Drew Angerer photo courtesy of Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Daniel Foote, who in 2019 was the U.S. ambassador to Zambia, protested the “horrifying” 15-year prison sentences imposed that year on a gay couple in Zambia.

Foote said the sentences harmed Zambia’s international reputation and perpetuated discrimination.

In contrast to Zambia’s harsh treatment of LGBT people, he said, “government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution, political cadres can beat innocent citizens for expressing their opinions with no consequences, or poachers/traffickers can kill numerous elephants, barbarically chainsaw and sell their tusks, and face a maximum of only five years imprisonment in Zambia.”

Foote said Zambian officials should act like leaders of the Christian nation they claim to represent instead of imprisoning LGBT people and encouraging un-Christian slurs against gay Zambian citizens.

Zambia’s then president, Edgar Lungu, demanded that the U.S. remove Foote as ambassador, saying that he did not want people who support “un-Christian values such as homosexuality” in the country. The U.S. quietly complied with Lungu’s demand.

This past July, Foote was named U.S. special envoy to Haiti.

Foote resigned from that position this week in protest over the new U.S. policy of deporting Haitian immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico border back to Haiti. In his letter of resignation, he called that policy inhumane and counterproductive.

“The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy,” Foote wrote.

“The collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services, and more refugees will fuel further desperation, and crime. Surging migration to our borders will only grow as we will add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery,” he stated.

Migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. take shelter in a make-shift camp in Del Rio, Texas, near the Mexican border. (Go Nakamura photo courtesy of Reuters)

According to Wendy Sherman, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, Foote’s letter contained a misleading version of the events leading to his resignation. She said Foote had advocated military intervention, which had been rejected by the administration, The Guardian reported.

Tens of thousands of Haitians have fled to South and Central America in recent years and many of them are now seeking asylum in the U.S. The U.S. Border Patrol has intercepted early 28,000 of them along the U.S.-Mexico border in the past 12 months, according to The New York Times.

Haitian deportees prepare to leave the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sept. 21 after being flown there by U.S. authorities from Del Rio, Texas, where the would-be migrants sought asylum. (Ralph Tedy Erol photo courtesy of Reuters)
Haitian deportees prepare to leave the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sept. 21 after being flown there by U.S. authorities from Del Rio, Texas, where the would-be migrants sought asylum. (Ralph Tedy Erol photo courtesy of Reuters)

Since Sunday, the U.S. has deported 1,400 of them back to Haiti on 12 deportation flights, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

 

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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