PANAMA CITY — Pope Francis said Wednesday making “us crazy” as he began a trip to Central America amid a standoff over President Trump’s promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and a new caravan of migrants heading north.

Francis was asked by reporters about the proposed border wall Wednesday on the way to Panama, where he is looking to leave the sex abuse scandals buffeting his papacy behind. Francis responded: “It is the fear that makes us crazy.”

The pontiff’s plane touched down in Panama City in the afternoon and he was met by President Juan Carlos Varela and first lady Lorena Castillo, who escorted him along a red carpet laid on the tarmac.

Spectators waved Panamanian flags in greeting and shouted, “This is the youth of the pope!” After a brief welcoming ceremony, he was driven away from the airport and did not have any more activities scheduled for the evening.

Francis landed as Venezuela’s protracted political crisis flared up, with the opposition president of the country’s National Assembly declaring himself interim president and a number of regional countries including the United States recognizing him.

The Vatican had said previously that the pope would refrain from making explicit reference to Venezuela while in Panama, but the developments ensured he would face questions about it during the trip.

The Roman Catholic Church’s first Latin American pope and the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, Francis has made the plight of migrants and refugees a cornerstone of his papacy. He is also expected to offer words of encouragement to young people gathered in Panama for World Youth Day, the church’s pep rally held every third year.

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