U.S. Backs Senior Trump Adviser to Lead Latin America Bank

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s administration plans to nominate a U.S. official to lead the top development bank for Latin America, seeking to break the organization’s six-decade tradition of choosing a chief from the region.

The Treasury Department said it’s supporting Mauricio Claver-Carone, the senior director of the National Security Council for Western Hemisphere Affairs, for to head the Inter-American Development Bank. Since its founding in 1959, the IDB has had four presidents, all coming from Latin America, with the executive vice-president typically nominated by the U.S.

“We are confident that his leadership of the IDB will strengthen its ability to deliver development impact to the region,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Claver-Carone looks poised to vie for the job against Argentina’s Gustavo Beliz, who also has the support of Mexico, amid other candidates. But backing of the U.S. is crucial to win the position, given its 30% share of the bank and de-facto veto power over its leadership decisions. The biggest stakeholders after the U.S. are Brazil and Argentina at 11% each, and Mexico at 7.2%.

The current head, Luis Alberto Moreno of Colombia, took over in 2005 and is set to step down at the end of September. The next IDB chief will face a number of challenges, including a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and Latin America’s growing role at the epicenter of the global pandemic. The region has 8% of the world’s population but about half of the new virus deaths.

“This is a unique opportunity to help lead the bank through the COVID-19 crisis, and to mobilize all the tools at our disposal,” Claver-Carone said in a phone interview. “We will commit to a one-term, five-year presidency and we hope to institutionalize one or two terms maximum to lead by example.”

A spokesman for the IDB didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A lawyer by training, Claver-Carone was one of the Trump administration’s staunchest critics of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, playing a key role in shaping U.S. policy toward the South American nation since he began his post in 2018. That included rallying international support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido and dialing up sanctions against the Maduro regime.

A former host to a foreign affairs talk show, Claver-Carone previously served as the U.S. executive director for the International Monetary Fund, supporting a $56 billion loan to Argentina, then-led by President Mauricio Macri. He also worked as senior adviser for international affairs at the Treasury Department.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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