Trump advisor elected to head Inter-American Development Bank

NEW YORK (AFP) – An advisor to United States (US) President Donald Trump was elected president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), ending decades of Latin American leadership, the institution announced on Saturday.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, who is a US citizen of Cuban descent, was the only candidate for the position and will assume office on October 1 for a five-year term.

He won the vote of 30 IDB governors, 23 of them from South American countries and, according to a Washington-based source, a total of 66.8 per cent of the votes.

In a statement, Claver-Carone thanked regional partners for “maintaining the integrity of this electoral process and sharing in our common vision of a stronger and more responsive IDB”.

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 US, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea and China.

Claver-Carone, 45, is the first non-Latin American citizen in 60 years to lead the IDB, and this had caused friction among its member states, including Argentina and Chile.

The two South American nations expressed concerns that Claver-Carone would undermine one of the institutions capable of offsetting the cost of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote, initially scheduled for March, was delayed due to Covid-19. Argentina had called to abstain, and Chile raised the possibility of cancelling the election altogether.

Claver-Carone’s victory had the backing of many Trump allies, including Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also congratulated Claver-Carone on his election.

The US is the IDB’s main shareholder, with a 30 per cent stake.

Known for his long-standing activism against Cuba’s communist regime and firm opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Claver-Carone has helped shape the US administration’s tough policies towards the two countries.

His election comes less than two months before the US presidential election in November, where Trump is seeking a second term.