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U.S. to nominate Trump's top Latin America adviser to lead IDB

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday said it will nominate President Donald Trump’s top Latin America adviser to head the Inter-American Development Bank, upending a longstanding tradition to reserve that post for a nominee from the region.

Mauricio Claver-Carone is a Cuban-American with strong anti-communist credentials, a former Treasury official who is hawkish on sanctions and has played a key role pushing measures against Venezuela and Cuba.

“The nomination of Mr. Claver-Carone demonstrates President Trump’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in important regional institutions, and to advancing prosperity and security in the Western Hemisphere,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement announcing the move.

He said Claver-Carone was well placed to lead the regional development bank at a time of growing challenges to growth and sustainable development exacerbated by sharp increases in novel coronavirus infections across the region.

The United States traditionally nominates the No. 2 official at the IDB. It was not immediately clear what caused the White House to switch gears.

Scott Morris, a fellow at the Center for Global Development, said the move could irritate Latin American countries since the job was normally reserved for a Latin American while an American ran the World Bank.

“You can’t argue in favor of scrapping the old system with a meritocracy if you have a foot in both,” he said.

“This has always been the position for a Latin American to have a seat on the global stage,” agreed Mauricio Cardenas, former finance minister of Colombia. “It is a small victory for the USA and a great defeat for Latin America.”

Currently a deputy assistant to Trump and senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Claver-Carone worked closely with countries in the region to promote economic development through private sector investments in energy and infrastructure.

He also helped develop the 2018 legislation that led to creation of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.

He previously served as the U.S. representative to the International Monetary Fund, a senior U.S. Treasury official, and at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Matt Spetalnick in Washington, and Rodrigo Campos in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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