Before being reminded it was built 100 years ago
Donald Trump’s encounters with world leaders have been anything but boring. From his infamous white knuckle handshake with the newly elected French President to reportedly hanging up the phone on the Australian Prime Minister mid-conversation after yelling at him, it would be safe to say he has upended the usual diplomatic order.
In a similar vein, the President has now used a bilateral meeting with Panama’s President on Monday to boast about building the Panama Canal. For the record, the 48-mile waterway in the Central American country is a century-old canal he of course did not build.
Sat side by side while cameras flared, the mogul-turned-politico claimed he and Mr Varela had many important issues to discuss, but nevertheless found time to declare: “The Panama Canal is doing quite well. I think we did a good job building it, right – a very good job.”
Turning to Juan Carlos Varela, Mr Trump asked: “Right?”
The President of Panama made sure to interject with: “Yeah, about 100 years ago.”
Apparently keen to make his point again, Mr Trump later added: “But things are going well in Panama”.
The US transferred control of the canal to Panama in December 1999. The massive waterway connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and is an important conduit for international maritime trade.
Mr Trump also heaped praise on the relationship between America and Panama in the press slot, dubbing it “very strong”.
“We are developing new things to do and only getting stronger. And also, friendship with the president is very, very good,” he said.
Critics immediately seized on Mr Trump’s decision to brag about the Panama Canal – judging it his latest gaffe.
“In response to the Bowling Green Massacre, President Andrew Jackson hired Donald Trump to build the Panama Canal to keep out the Australians,” quipped Marie Conner.
This is a reference to the now notorious “Bowling Green Massacre” – a terrorist attack invented by senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway which never took place. She falsely claimed Iraqi refugees committed a “massacre” within the United States but most people didn’t know about it because “it didn’t get covered” by the media.
Another critic added: “Did Trump just take credit for the Panama Canal? Does he know when it was built? Maybe he thinks Frederick Douglas was the head engineer”.