US President Donald Trump's candidate to head the Inter-American Development Bank said Tuesday he has the backing of the majority of Latin American countries but accused Argentina of trying to "obstruct" his election, with the help of Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica.
Mauricio Claver-Carone told a press conference that 17 countries were supporting him, and denounced the "tactics" of the President Alberto Fernández's government, accusing it of trying to delay the vote until next year due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are seeing a minority effort, led by Argentina, to hinder the election because they have not been able to present a competitive vision," he said, adding that the United States would resist "any attempt to hijack" the voting.
He promised that the United States would fight back against "any attempt to hijack "the vote scheduled for September.
"They want to steal the ball and run off the field. Obviously, games are not played that way. There are rules," Claver-Carone told reporters.
The remarks by Claver-Carone, the director of Latin American affairs in Trump's National Security Council who is of Cuban descent, were described as "aggressive" by Chile's representative Andres Allamand.
"They confirm that his election would be clearly inadequate," he said on Twitter.
Argentina has pushed for the leadership of the bank – which comprises 48 Latin American, Caribbean, and European nations plus the United States, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea and China – to remain in the hands in Latin American hands. But it made no comment except to reiterate that the vote should be pushed back until March.
"We are immobilised by the pandemic and such a crucial vote should take place in person," said Argentina's representative Felipe Sola, stressing support for his country's candidate Gustavo Beliz.
Costa Rica, which is pushing its former president Laura Chinchilla for the post, backed the Argentinian position, as did Mexico and Chile.