MEXICO CITY - President Donald Trump's candidate Mauricio Claver-Carone won the election to lead the Inter-American Development Bank, placing an American at the head of the important lender as he looks to counter China's influence in the hemisphere.
Claver-Carone, Trump's senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council, won the election Saturday during an electronic meeting with votes from at least 15 of the 28 regional member nations, the IADB said in an emailed statement, without mentioning the final count. He is poised to begin a five-year term in October, becoming the first American to lead the Washington-based institution. The victory came after Argentina abstained in protest and urged other nations to join it.
While Mexico, Chile and the European Union also previously urged a delay, saying that countries lacked appropriate time to debate the bank's future because of the pandemic, the subtext was the uproar over Trump nominating an adviser known as a Cuba and Venezuela hard-liner and breaking the tradition of the bank's head coming from Latin America established over the course of its six-decade history.
Former presidents and finance ministers from nations including Mexico, Brazil and Colombia argued that having a head from the U.S., which has triple the voting power of any other nation, would strip the region of its influence in the bank's decisions. To ease that concern, Claver-Carone said last month that he's held talks with the Brazilians about the IDB's No. 2 position and pledged to appoint leaders from the Caribbean and Central America.
The bank lends more than $10 billion per year to fund social and infrastructure programs and is seen as key to finance Latin America's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Luis Alberto Moreno, the outgoing president and a former Colombian ambassador to the U.S., is set to step down at the end of this month after 15 years at the helm. Claver-Carone, a lawyer, is a former Sirius XM radio host of the show "From Washington al Mundo" who also served as Trump's representative to the International Monetary Fund and as an adviser in the Treasury Department.
Electing Claver-Carone may leave the bank out of step with a potential Democratic administration in the U.S. should Joe Biden defeat Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee that would need to approve a U.S. capital increase for the bank, criticized the nomination of Claver-Carone. Leahy said in June that his presidency could jeopardize U.S. support for the bank and warned that Claver-Carone's adversarial relationship with the governments of Venezuela and Cuba could polarize the IDB.
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