United States President Donald Trump’s nominee has been elected to lead the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the region’s main economic development lender, a decision that has sparked criticism from some Latin American countries.
Mauricio Claver-Carone, Trump’s senior Latin America adviser and the senior director for western hemisphere affairs at the US National Security Council, told the bank’s governors before voting began on Saturday that he would be “a passionate advocate” for the bank, its staff and the region.
When he takes office on October 1, Claver-Carone will become the first US citizen to lead the institution in its decades-long history.
The bank is the main source of financing for development in Latin America and the Caribbean. It comprises 48 countries: nations in the region and Europe, plus the United States, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea and China.
Trump’s decision to nominate a US candidate to head the organisation broke with a tradition for the IDB’s president to come from the region and led to criticism from some Latin American countries, development groups and the European Union.
In a statement on Saturday, the IDB said Claver-Carone was elected to a five-year term.
Thirty of the bank’s 48 governors voted for Claver-Carone, including 23 from the region, amounting to a third of the vote, a spokesman for the US National Security Council said.
Three sources familiar with the vote told the Reuters news agency that 16 countries abstained.
Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica – concerned about the longer-term precedent of the move – initially sought to delay the vote but failed to win sufficient backing to do so.
Some countries also were concerned about electing Claver-Carone should Trump lose the November 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, whose campaign also criticised the Trump administration’s nomination.
But Claver-Carone had the backing of many of the US’s regional allies, including Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.
‘Arrogant and confrontational’
Claver-Carone said Saturday that he would work with IDB member countries to “strengthen the bank, respond to the needs of the region and create opportunities for shared prosperity and economic growth”.
In June, The Economist reported that Claver-Carone’s nomination was controversial “not just because [it] breaks with tradition”.
“He’s a guy who comes with very Miami-type baggage, adversarial to Cuba and Venezuela and representing a conservative alliance,” a Latin American diplomat told the news outlet. “He would bring ideology directly into the bank.”
Claver-Carone has also been described as “arrogant and confrontational” by those who have dealt with him, The Economist reported.
Senior US officials unsurprisingly welcomed the Trump nominee’s victory on Saturday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both congratulated Claver-Carone for his win, which Pompeo said “will advance peace and prosperity in the Western Hemisphere”.
“I look forward to working with the IDB and our partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to support the recovery from COVID-19 and promote economic growth and development across the region,” Mnuchin said in a statement.
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), also congratulated Claver-Carone and said she looked forward to continued collaboration between the two institutions.
Claver-Carone previously served as US representative to the IMF and senior adviser to the under secretary of international affairs at the US Treasury Department.