Wary of 'tensions,' Chile favors postponing Inter-American Development Bank election

08/06/2020 | 02:36pm

SANTIAGO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Chile on Thursday said it favors postponing the election of a new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) president to avoid "tensions" following the selection of the first-ever U.S. candidate.

The current favorite to win is U.S. President Donald Trump's pick and adviser, Mauricio Claver-Carone, known for his tough stance on Venezuela and Cuba.

Claver-Carone would be the first person from outside Latin America to lead the Washington-based IDB, a smaller cousin of the IMF that has been led by Latin Americans since its founding in 1959.

Foreign Minister Andrés Allamand, speaking before lawmakers, said Chile, currently led by center-right President Sebastian Pinera, considers "there is a tradition to preserve" with respect to choosing a Latin American president for the institution.

"We must avoid tensions from external factors ... so that [the bank] can turn all its energy to the reactivation of the region," Allamand said.

The IDB declined to comment on his statement.

Allamand added that the IDB has always preferred a Latin American president and a vice president from the United States, and he said he saw no reason to change.

His comments were the latest from a regional government official voicing concern over Claver-Carone's candidacy.

"We're glad that countries in the region and in other continents are raising their voice with what we believe it is an unusual situation that goes against the spirit of the balances in the international credit organizations," said an official from Argentina, which has its own candidate.

In a July 30 letter, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also called for a postponement.

The vote, scheduled for Sept. 12, reflects a wider geopolitical struggle in Latin America. Long seen dependent on the United States and firmly within its sphere of influence, the region has been pulled closer into the orbit of Beijing in recent years.

China is the main consumer of Latin America's commodities and an increasingly active lender to the region. (Reporting by Natalia Ramos, additional reporting by Cassandra Garrison, Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Tom Brown)

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