In one of his latest displays of undiplomatic impulsiveness, President Donald Trump unexpectedly slammed the closest ally the United States has in Latin America, Colombian President Ivan Duque. The comments startled Duque and much of Colombia, highlighting the risks to politicians everywhere who align their fates too closely with a president like Trump, who is not only unpopular in their own countries, but who also has a penchant for mistreating Washington’s friends.
The incident occurred on March 29 when Trump was on a visit to Lake Okeechobee in Florida with a group of Republican officials. Trump alluded to Duque, who is in his first year as president and facing a mountain of complicated problems. “Really good guy,” Trump said. “I’ve met him. We had him at the White House.” But the warm words suddenly vanished when Trump noted that more drugs are coming to the U.S. from Colombia now than before Duque became president; Colombian cocaine production is at record levels. “He said how he’s going to stop drugs,” Trump said, but “he has done nothing for us.”
The words were a jolt to Duque and his administration. Multiple sources said Duque was very upset. The atmosphere in the Casa de Narino, the presidential palace in Bogota, was said to be one of surprise and profound unease.