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Latin American governments move to scuttle Trump's pick for international development bank

Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

WASHINGTON -- Diplomats from several Latin American and European countries are trying to delay next month's vote on President Donald Trump's nominee to lead a key international development bank, hoping to push the decision into next year, when a new U.S. president could be in office.

Trump broke norms by nominating a U.S. citizen from his National Security Council staff to head the Inter-American Development Bank, a lending agency that finances roughly $12 billion a year in a wide range of projects for Latin America and the Caribbean. For its six decades, the bank's presidency was held by a Latin American national. The head of its counterpart organization, the World Bank, is traditionally a U.S. citizen, while the International Monetary Fund is run by a European.

Trump's pick is Mauricio Claver-Carone, a Floridian son of Cuban immigrants who advocates an aggressive U.S. policy toward leftist governments in Venezuela and Cuba.

A lawyer, Claver-Carone has little banking experience, and his appointment is being seen as part of Trump's effort to put Americans in charge of key international organizations. He is also very close to Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

In a rare move to confront the Trump administration, diplomats from several Latin American and European countries have come out in opposition to Claver-Carone and called for the September annual assembly to be postponed indefinitely. If that fails, some have speculated that opposing countries may skip the meeting, depriving it of the quorum needed for the vote.

Costa Rica, a traditional U.S. ally reluctant to rock the boat with Washington, over the weekend joined Chile, Mexico, Argentina and the European Union, which have either opposed Claver-Carone's nomination or urged a delay in the election.

 

Citing the coronavirus as a reason to postpone, the Finance and Foreign ministries added that they would continue to promote the nation's own candidate, former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.

Canada has joined the opposition, diplomatic sources said, but has not done so publicly.

The European Union, which holds an advisory role with the IDB, also declared its opposition to Claver-Carone, saying the position should be held by a Latin American national and urging the election be put off.

Chile's opposition is significant because President Sebastian Pinera, a conservative businessman, has been relatively friendly with Trump. "Under no circumstance is it reasonable" to change the bank leadership at this moment, Pinera's foreign minister, Andres Allamand, said last week.

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