Trump’s Inter-American Development Bank nomination shakes up hemispheric diplomacy

President Trump on Tuesday nominated Mauricio Claver-Carone to become president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), a move that breaks with tradition and would make him the first non-native Latin American to lead the bank.

Claver-Carone, the senior director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council, is well known in the region for his hawkish stance on U.S. relations with Cuba and Venezuela.

His intended nomination was made public Tuesday, in an announcement from the Department of the Treasury.

“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,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.

His nomination was quickly seconded by Ecuador, and is expected to be supported by Brazil, Trump’s closest political ally in the region.

The United States owns 30 percent of the bank’s shares, making it the largest shareholder in the IDB, followed by Brazil and Argentina with 11 percent each, and Mexico with 7 percent.

The bank’s president is chosen for a five-year term by the shareholders, whose vote is weighted by their ownership share.

Claver-Carone told The Associated Press Tuesday he plans to serve a single term as president.

“One tradition people don’t talk about is that for 60 years there have been only four presidents,” Claver-Carone told the AP. “These 15-, 20-year presidencies have to end.”

And Claver-Carone said he has the support of a dozen nations in the region, including Brazil, a country which reportedly had its own candidate before Treasury announced Claver-Carone’s nomination.

Latin America observers were surprised by the announcement, as the IDB — like other regional development banks — traditionally views the presidency held by a native of the region as a sign of relative independence from the United States.

“It was quite a surprise and certainly breaks with a long-standing norm and tradition,” Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue policy group in Washington, told The Wall Street Journal.

“I think that he’s in a reasonably strong position to be the next president of the IDB. I don’t see many governments that are prepared to defy the United States, the Trump administration, and take a risk of repercussions,” said Shifter.

Michael Reid, The Economist’s senior editor and columnist on Latin America and Spain, tweeted Tuesday that Latin American countries will view the bank’s role as more important than ever amid the coronavirus economic crisis.

“Claver-Carone’s chance depend partly on whether the [Jair] Bolsonaro government in Brazil drops its support for its own candidate, Rodrigo Xavier. But they also probably depend on whether or not Latin America and other bank shareholders think Trump is heading for defeat in November,” wrote Reid.

Tags Brazil Donald Trump Ecuador Inter-American Development Bank Inter-American Development Bank Mauricio Claver-Carone Steven Mnuchin

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