BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A Trump administration official nominated to lead Latin America’s main development bank on Tuesday dismissed the growing regional opposition to his candidacy, the first for anyone outside Latam, as “subversive” and led by a small minority.
Mauricio Claver-Carone, Trump’s fiery senior adviser on Latin America known for his hardline stance on Venezuela and Cuba, is the favorite to win the presidency of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is set to vote on the matter Sept. 12.
Several countries, including Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile, and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell have called for a delay on the vote, citing concerns about having an IDB leader from outside the region.
A battle has been brewing for control of the IDB, with U.S. President Donald Trump looking to combat the rising influence of China, and some countries chafing at losing control of the regional lender, which was founded as a partnership between the U.S. and 19 Latin American countries and over time expanded to include nations around the globe.
In a call with reporters, Claver-Carone said 17 countries had given him public support.
“We are seeing a minority effort, led by the government of Argentina, to be able to obstruct the election because they have not been able to present or have not wanted to present a competitive vision,” Claver-Carone said.
The “minority, impeding, subversive effort” would leave the bank in “paralysis” and scare off investment from the private sector in the region, he added.
“No one has helped more in the relationship between the United States and Mexico than me,” said Claver-Carone, who has said he aims to raise the bank’s capital and improve lending transparency.
Argentina’s foreign ministry and Mexico’s finance ministry declined to comment. Chilean Foreign Minister Andres Allamand said later on Tuesday that Claver-Carone’s “aggressive statements” prove his election would be “very inadequate.”
A candidate needs the support of at least 15 of the 28 regional member countries and a majority of the total vote to win. The percentage of voting control relates to each country’s shares in the bank, and at least 75% must be present for a quorum or the election would be rescheduled.
Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Costa Rica combined represent just over 22% of the vote.
European countries could prove to be a tipping point. Some EU nations, including Spain, Italy and Germany, hold small percentages of voting power in the IDB. EU official Borrell has recommended the vote be rescheduled for 2021.
Borrell does not represent the position of any EU country, Claver-Carone said. “The personal opinion of the foreign commissioner is a personal opinion, but it does not reflect any vote in the IDB.”
Reporting by Cassandra Garrison and Eliana Raszewski; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Leslie Adler
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