Photo: Donald Trump Political Faux-Pas in Panama
According to Panamanian officials, Trump told CNN that the United States had “stupidly” handed over the Panama Canal to the country “in exchange for nothing.”
Trump, who in June will open a luxury hotel in Panamá was declared “persona non grata” following the remarks he made about the Panamá canal.
“I think it was a political stupidity on the part of Donald Trump. Somebody who has 400 million dollars invested in Panama should not speak this way” said Panamanian Commerce and Industry Minister Roberto Henríquez.
“It is my understanding that he has presidential aspirations, and I think he might be appealing to the far American right.“ Henríquez added.
President Ricardo Martinelli regretted Trump’s remarks, and hopes he retracts them.
The Panama canal was built in the early 1900’s after President Roosevelt financed Panama’s independence from Colombia in exchange for the strip of land connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
“We can demonstrate that the US exploited us and ripped us off with the Hay-Bunau Varilla treaty of 1903” Said Julio Yao, a Panamanian professor and political advisor. “The US did not pay a single cent to Panamá for the land strip where the canal is, and took 85 years worth of benefits from it.”
In 1999, the canal went back into Panamanian hands, as stipulated in a treaty signed in 1977 by the then Panama leader Omar Torrijos, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
In the 11 years that Panama has had exclusive control of the canal, the nation has made more money than it made on the 85 years under US control.
“ We are the owners of the canal, and we don’t have to pay anybody,” said Panamá city councilman Javier Ortega. “Now for once its benefits reach our country-folk and indigenous populations.”