President Donald Trump earlier had conceded that he rarely reads but it comes as little shocking that he, at the age of 70, knows nothing about the countries whose leaders he’s meeting with.
President Trump just met with President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama today and he embarrassed himself in front of the press and the latter. He said, “The Panama Canal is doing quite well. I think we did a good job building it, isn’t that right?” To which Varela replied, “yes, one hundred years ago.”
The above footage clearly shows that Varela looks uncomfortable throughout the interaction and appeared unimpressed with Trump’s Snapple-cap fact knowledge of his country.
When the canal was built in 1914, it was controlled by the United States solely but after the 70’s, it was then joint-run by Panama and the U.S. Later in 1999, Panama finally received total control of the canal only after a long and contentious pushback from the Panamanian people. One particular riot led to the death of twenty-two Panamanians and four American soldiers.
In short, the history of the canal, and what it means for Panama-U.S. relations is complex. So it’s certainly not a topic that a wise President would joke about at a press conference. But, as has been demonstrated ad nauseam, Trump is not a wise president.