By Cassandra Garrison and Eliana Raszewski
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – A Trump administration official nominated to lead Latin America’s main development bank on Tuesday dismissed the growing regional opposition to his candidacy, the first for anyone outside Latam, as “subversive” and led by a small minority.
Mauricio Claver-Carone, a White House heavyweight known for his hardline stance on Venezuela and Cuba, is the favorite to win the presidency at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is set to hold a vote on the matter on Sept. 12.
Several countries, including Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile, and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, have called for a delay, citing concerns about having an IDB leader from outside the region.
In a call with reporters, Claver-Carone said 17 countries had given him public support.
“We are seeing a minority effort, led by the government of Argentina, to be able to obstruct the election because they have not been able to present or have not wanted to present a competitive vision,” Claver-Carone said.
The “minority, impeding, subversive effort” would leave the bank in “paralysis” and scare off investment from the private sector in the region, he added.
“No one has helped more in the relationship between the United States and Mexico than me,” Claver-Carone said.
Argentina’s foreign ministry and Mexico’s finance ministry declined to comment.
A battle has been brewing for control of the IDB, with U.S. President Donald Trump looking to combat the rising influence of China, and some countries chafing at losing control of the regional lender. Claver-Carone, Trump’s fiery senior adviser on Latin America, has said he aims to raise the bank’s capital and improve lending transparency.
A candidate needs the support of at least 15 of the 28 regional member countries and a majority of the total vote to win. The percentage of voting control relates to each country’s shares in the bank and at least 75% must be present for a quorum or the election would be rescheduled.
Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Costa Rica combined represent just over 22% of the vote.
European countries could prove to be a tipping point. Some EU nations, including Spain, Italy and Germany, hold small percentages of voting power in the IDB. EU official Borrell has recommended the vote be rescheduled for 2021.
Borrell does not represent the position of any EU country, Claver-Carone said. “The personal opinion of the foreign commissioner is a personal opinion, but it does not reflect any vote in the IDB.”
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