Economy

The Inter-American Development Bank has a new president

Mauricio Claver-Carone, Trump's senior Latin America adviser, was the chosen one

BID's logo
Visitors walk past a screen with the logo of Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), also known as the Inter-American Development Bank, at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City March 13, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Jasso/File Photo
  • Trump’s decision to nominate a U.S. citizen to head the Bank sparked criticism from some Latin American countries, development groups, and the European Union;
  • But Mauricio Claver-Carone won the backing of a majority of countries in the region.

U.S. President Donald Trump‘s pick to run Latin America’s main financial institution was elected president of the Inter-American Development Bank on Saturday, the bank said, making him the first U.S. citizen to lead the bank in its 61-year history.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, Trump’s senior Latin America adviser, told the bank’s governors before the voting began that he would be “a passionate advocate” for the bank, its staff, and the region. He will take office on Oct. 1 and has pledged to serve for only one five-year term.

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Trump’s decision to nominate a U.S. citizen to head the Bank sparked criticism from some Latin American countries, development groups, and the European Union, but Claver-Carone won the backing of a majority of countries in the region.

Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Costa Rica – concerned about the longer-term precedent of the move – initially sought to delay the vote, but failed to win sufficient backing to do so.

The IDB vote has become a geopolitical battle between the Trump administration keen to gain leverage in resource-rich Latin American and counter the rise of China, and some in the region who do not want to lose control of the lender.

“This victory is for Latin America and the Caribbean. I want to thank all of our partners in the region for maintaining the integrity of this electoral process and sharing in our common vision of a stronger and more responsive IDB,” Claver-Carone said in a statement after the election.

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“My commitment remains the same: to work with the IDB member countries to outline a strategy to strengthen the bank, respond to the needs of the region, and create opportunities for shared prosperity and economic growth,” he said.

Claver-Carone made his final pitch to the bank’s governors – the finance ministers of the bank’s member countries – from the U.S. office at the Bank’s Washington headquarters on Saturday, with a large American flag behind him.

The IDB has been led by Latin Americans since its inception in 1959, while the World Bank has historically been led by a U.S. citizen. Critics say electing Claver-Carone to head the Bank and his pledge to appoint a Latin American to the No. 2 job sets a precedent that could harm Washington in the end.