Borrell takes position against Trump candidate for Inter-American Development Bank

Mauricio Claver-Carone, special assistant to US President Donald J. Trump and senior director of the US National Security Council's Western Hemisphere Affairs division, participates in a news media interview during which he discussed Venezuela; outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 July 2019. [Michael Reynolds/EPA/EFE]

A top European Union diplomat has called for a delay in the vote to choose the Inter-American Development Bank’s new president, a closely watched election that has sparked controversy over the first-ever US candidate.

In a 30 July letter seen by Reuters, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell cited the coronavirus pandemic and the nomination of President Donald Trump’s hawkish Latin America adviser Mauricio Claver-Carone as reasons to postpone the planned 12 September vote until after March.

“This postponement is more advisable if we consider the submission, without precedent, of a candidacy to preside the Bank by the United States Government,” Borrell wrote in the letter to Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya.

Some US lawmakers and former ministers and presidents in Latin America have publicly voiced their opposition to Claver-Carone, although he is favored to win the 12 September election and has support from at least 15 countries.

Two Argentine government officials told Reuters the country, which has its own candidate, would favor postponing the IDB election. But with just over 11% of the voting power, they would need the support of other countries to delay the vote.

Claver-Carone dismissed the idea that Europe would oppose his candidacy in an interview last week, saying he was already in touch with European leaders about future plans.

“Do you think Europe is going to look at the majority of region which has already come out publicly in support of our candidacy and say, ‘Oh, we’re going to go with one country in the region versus the overwhelming majority of the region?’ The optics of that would be horrible,” Claver-Carone said.

A senior US administration official told Reuters the EU was not party to the IDB as an entity, and all member states had agreed to the virtual September election.

“Any effort by a minority of countries, let alone by non-regional countries, to hijack the election process would be an affront to the region and be challenged,” the official said.

Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, also pushed back in a tweet on Sunday: “The region is independent, sovereign and can maturely make its own decisions.”

The IDB declined to comment on Borrell’s letter.

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