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LATIN AMERICA | 27-08-2020 18:21

Latin American leaders accuse Trump of "imposing" his IDB candidate

Leaders from Latin America and Spain have accused Donald Trump of seeking to "impose" his candidate to head the Inter-American Development.

A host of former heads of government from Latin America and Spain have accused United States President Donald Trump of wishing to "impose" his candidate to head the Inter-American Development (IDB or BID in its Spanish acronym) in a new appeal to postpone an election which in their eyes "lacks legitimacy."

The group had already said as much in June when the Trump government nominated Mauricio Claver-Carone, a lawyer of Cuban origin and a hardliner against Cuba and Venezuela, who currently claims the support of 17 countries.

Signing the joint statement affirming the US candidacy to constitute an "aggression against Latin American dignity" were: Brazil’s Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002); Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000); Spain’s Felipe González (1982-1996); Chile’s Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006); Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) and Uruguay’s Julio María Sanguinetti (1985-1990 and 1995-2000).

"The United States, without debate nor consulting the pertinent BID authorities, launched its candidacy overriding all agreements and norms," they indicated in reference to the agreement reigning since the foundation of the Bank in 1959 whereby its presidency is occupied by a Latin American with a US vice-president.

"The US president is breaking with this co-existence and seeking to impose its candidate over the historic consensus," they said in a text published in Twitter by Santos.

"That is why," they added, "the election convoked for September 12 and 13, should it be held, would lack legitimacy and should be considered null and void sooner rather than later."

The election of the successor of the Colombian Luis Alberto Moreno is scheduled for a virtual session on those dates. It was going to be last March at the IDB's annual general assembly in Barranquilla, Colombia, but the Covid-19 emergency delayed it until September. In July the bank's board of directors again postponed the assembly until next March although the vote for the new president stood.

"The politically sensible thing to do was and remains to postpone both actions," pointed out the retired leaders, urging the Board to prepare "meticulously and carefully" an Assembly which, according to them, should define the strategy for dealing with the pandemic crisis and electing its future leader.

"Irreparable damage"

A Claver-Carone presidency "would be an arbitrary imposition" and "the damage to BID irreparable," was the opinion of the signatories.

Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile and Mexico are also opposed to a September election, as is the European Union Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell, who made a similar recommendation some weeks ago to IDB's European members.

Last week 17 countries rejected postponing the vote in an emphatic show of support for Washington’s candidate.

The Inter-American Development Bank, the main source of financing development projects for Latin America and the Caribbean, has 48 member countries represented on its board by governors. The voting power of each depends on its underwritten capital.

The United States, the IDB's biggest shareholder, accounts for 30 percent of this capital while the other 16 countries against postponing the election add up to a further 23.9 percent. Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica total just over 22 percent between them.

Holding the election would require a quorum of an absolute majority of the governors (i.e. at least 25), an absolute majority of the governors of regional members (at least 15) and at least three-quarters of the total votes of member countries.

"Until now no request to reprogramme the election has been received," a IDB spokesperson told AFP.

According to the dispositions of the board of directors, candidacies may be proposed through to September 10.

Argentina has said that it backs Strategic Affairs Secretary Gustavo Beliz while Costa Rica promotes its ex-president Laura Chinchilla. But, according to BID information, Claver-Carone, proposed by the United States, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti and Paraguay, is the only candidate formally in the running.

The new president must take office no later than 60 days after the election on a date to be determined by the Assembly of Governors.

The term of Moreno, in charge since 2005, expires on September 30.

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by Alina Dieste, AFP

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