Donald Trump makes joke about socialism at UN General Assembly, is met with awkward silence

President pauses in anticipation of big laugh - which fails to materialise

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Wednesday 20 September 2017 12:14 BST
Donald Trump receives laughs in the UN chamber after talk of socialism

Donald Trump may have shocked people when he said that America could “totally destroy” North Korea in his first address to the UN General Assembly, but it was not the most awkward moment of his speech.

North Korea and its “Rocket man” leader Kim Jong-un were not the only targets in the firing line during Mr Trump's address. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro was attacked for bringing “a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse,” and it was a comment on his implementation of socialism that earned the president an uncomfortable silence from the assembly during a long and deliberate pause.

Mr Trump said: “The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.”

He called for every country represented at the UN General Assembly to do more to address the situation, before stating that America calls for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela, which was met with applause.

Mr Trump then told the General Assembly: “The problem with Venezuela, is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”

He paused for a response but was met with awkward silence before sounds of murmured laughter could be heard, and eventually weak clapping.

The president then continued with his speech, stating: “From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.”

Mr Maduro did not attend the General Assembly but responded to the president’s comments by calling Mr Trump “the new Hitler”.

“The magnate thinks he is the owner of the world, but no one threatens Venezuela,” he said. Mr Maduro also accused the US president of threatening to assassinate him, though Mr Trump made no such threat.

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