Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pushing Panama

Trump Organization lawyers sent a letter (here is an image) to the President of Panama asking him to intervene directly in a dispute about a Trump hotel.

“We categorically reject any assumption or assertion that the letter sought to ‘pressure’ the President of the Republic of Panama,” or other officials, the firm said. It continued: “The authorization of Trump Organization for its delivery was not requested, and nobody at Trump Organization was aware [of] the letter until today.”

This is disingenuous. Panama is heavily dependent on the United States and the lawyers know that full well. The clear intent was to make Juan Carlos Varela nervous even without a stated threat. As you might guess, the Panamanian reaction is not positive. This is viewed as intimidation of a kind that has long plagued U.S.-Latin American relations. We'll see whether Trump can maintain silence or whether he'll make it worse with a tweet.

This is not a good way to go into the Summit of the Americas, which starts in three days, though at this point it's hard for Trump's image to get worse. Already, a widely shared quote from a Latin American diplomat was that most intended to "smile and nod" around Trump, who is viewed as a blowhard.

Update: shortly after posting I saw that Trump has decided not to attend. Chances he plays golf instead are quite high, I think.


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