Latam calls grow louder to delay regional bank vote, in setback for Trump pick

BUENOS AIRES/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Support grew in Latin America on Friday for a move to delay the election of a new president for the region’s leading development finance lender, a potential setback for U.S. President Donald Trump’s divisive pick to lead the institution.

The U.S. candidate, Mauricio Claver-Carone, a Trump adviser known for his hard-line stance on Venezuela and Cuba, is the current favorite to win the top spot at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is set to hold a vote on the matter next month.

Claver-Carone would become the first person from outside Latin America to lead the Washington-based bank, a smaller cousin of the International Monetary Fund that has been led by Latin Americans since its founding in 1959.

But calls from within the region for a different approach have been growing.

Mexico’s finance ministry said on Friday that the vote should be postponed “until the conditions were right,” echoing a similar call on Thursday from Chile.

Argentina’s Senate foreign affairs committee said in a statement on Friday that it unanimously supported having a Latin American candidate run the bank.

Its government has yet to announce its position, but a spokesman hinted that a delay may be appropriate.

“There’s a general consensus from multiple sectors in the region about the importance of a Latin American figure leading such an important organization as the IDB,” the spokesman said.

“Rushing a decision on the matter would not be prudent.”

Costa Rica’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that delaying the election would be “a timely and convenient option” to strengthen the bank.

The U.S. presidential election on Nov.3 could see Trump losing to Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who has opposed Claver-Carone’s bid to lead the bank.

A Cuban-American, Claver-Carone told Reuters last month that he had “overwhelming support” for his bid from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. He said 15 countries had publicly supported him and six other had expressed their backing privately.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito in Mexico City, Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires and Alvaro Murillo in San Jose; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Matthew Lewis and Rosalba O’Brien