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LATIN AMERICA | 19-09-2020 10:19

Claver-Carone promises to unify region after winning IDB vote

Ex-Trump aide wins vote to become new president of the Inter-American Development bank, making him first non-Latin American head of institution.

US President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Inter-American Development Bank says he’s now focused on uniting the region and leaving behind the political divisions that involved his election.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, 45, was elected on September 12 for a five-year term as president of the IDB, breaking a six-decade tradition of the head coming from Latin America.

The campaign was sometimes contentious. Argentina led an effort that included Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica to delay the vote, spurring Claver-Carone to accuse President Alberto Fernández’s government of obstruction. Argentina had pushed for Fernández’s Strategic Affairs Secretary Gustavo Beliz for the post.

Claver-Carone said he spoke with Fernández and the presidents of Chile and Costa Rica this week, and that they were “great, productive conversations about how we can have a unifying agenda and move forward.”

He also spoke with governments about filling the vice-president jobs, though he hasn’t promised them to any country and is looking to tap the best candidates rather than be limited to representatives from the largest nations, as has been IDB tradition, he said.

“My goal is within the first couple of weeks of my presidency to be able to have consultations with the board, and get advice from the board, on senior leadership positions,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “I obviously have a notion of extraordinarily talented people in the region whose skill set I’d love to have.”

Claver-Carone succeeds Luis Alberto Moreno, who leaves at the end of this month after 15 years, or three terms, at the helm of the Washington-based lender. The bank has had just four presidents in 61 years of existence, with all lasting at least a decade.

As senior director for the Western Hemisphere at the White House’s National Security Council, Claver-Carone led a hardline policy against Cuba and advocated for sanctions against Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s government. His nomination drew criticism from Democrats including Senator Patrick Leahy, as well as former ministers and presidents from Latin America.

Claver-Carone previously worked as chief-of-staff to World Bank President David Malpass when he was undersecretary of Treasury for international affairs, and as the US representative to the International Monetary Fund. He said that as the first IDB president to have served as a board member of an international financial institution since its first president, Felipe Herrera, six decades ago, he has a heightened appreciation for the IDB board’s role.

“I think that’s truly invaluable,” he said of his board experience. “One of the biggest complaints that you hear is how the power of the board with these 15 to 20-year presidencies has continued to wither. Part of my campaign and part of my presentation was about returning power to the board.”

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by Eric Martin, Bloomberg


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