Six former presidents of Latin American countries and Spain released a letter Wednesday calling for the postponement of the Inter-American Development Bank’s election for its next president. The call for a suspension in the vote comes as an unprecedented appointment from the United States is set to take charge of the bank for the first time.
U.S. President Donald Trump has previously nominated his Latin American adviser Mauricio Claver-Carone, which has been met with criticism across the Americas. That’s because the regional development bank has always run on the agreement that a Latin American official would serve as its president ever since it was founded by the Organization of American States in 1959.
Wednesday’s letter from the ex-presidents called for postponing the election that an American is likely to win “because we are not just facing a deviation from a common practice that has been done throughout this institution’s history, but a grave violation of the fundamental political agreement that has existed since the beginning.”
Colombian Luis Alberto Moreno is set to move on from the D.C.-based bank this year after a 15-year spell as the chief there. The election for his replacement will take place over two days starting Sept. 12.
As the region’s economy continues downward because of the coronavirus pandemic, the next Inter-American Development Bank president will have to be instrumental in providing relief money
Claver-Carone’s potential election has come under scrutiny not just because he is an American, but also because of his history of conservative politics that has sought tougher action from the U.S. on Latin America. He has been a vocal advocate of the embargo on Cuba and stricter sanctions on Venezuela.
He previously served as the U.S. Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund.
The pick has also found opposition in the United States. The Democratic Party nominee for president Joe Biden told the Miami Herald earlier this month that Claver-Carone is “overly ideological” and “under-qualified” for the job.
This latest letter follows a June letter in which many of the same former presidents expressed their dissatisfaction with Trump’s pick. Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brasil), Felipe González (Spain), Ricardo Lagos (Chile), Julio María Sanguinetti (Uruguay), Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (México) all signed on to this most recent statement.
The clock is ticking on their fight to prevent an American heading the bank for the first time in its history. Because the U.S. has a disproportionate hold on voting shares to its favor, Trump’s pick is set to win as conservative governments in Brazil and Colombia have said they will back Claver-Carone when it comes to a vote.
Michael has been a reporter covering Latin America since 2014. He has lived and worked in Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico. His work from the region has appeared in The Guardian, The Associated Press and Vice.