LATIN-AMERICA POLITICS

Piñera Administration Favors Postponing Development Bank Elections

SANTIAGO – On Thursday, Aug. 6, Foreign Minister Andrés Allamand announced that the Piñera administration favors postponing the election of a new Inter-American Development Bank president. The determination follows tensions in the region due to Trump’s announcement of the first-ever U.S. candidate. Allamand also argued that elections should be delayed so that the institution can focus on the economic revival of the region.

The scenario in Latin America has been tense since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the first-ever U.S. candidate for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) presidential election set for September. The institution has always been chaired by a Latin American president and a United States vice president. 

The Chilean government believes the tradition of having a Latin American president of IDB should stand, Foreign Minister Andrés Allamand said this morning. “We think that under no circumstances it is reasonable to stress the management of the bank in the region with a change of authorities,” Allamand added.

On June 16, Trump’s administration announced Mauricio Claver-Carone as a candidate for the presidency of the IDB. Ever since, finance circles in Latin America have been abuzz, as the U.S. candidate would be the first president of the institution from outside Latin America.

On Aug. 5, the Latin American Reflection Roundtable (LARR) issued a statement asking for the postponement of the IDB elections, scheduled for Sept. 12. A score of former foreign ministers together with a group of Latin American political leaders and representatives signed off on it, arguing that “the process has generated important concerns throughout the continent and it is taking place at a time of unprecedented international inflection.”

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The LARR was created four months ago to discuss the political scenario in the midst of the pandemic and how Covid-19 has impacted the region. But disagreement after Trump’s candidate proposal shifted the focus of the group and assembled authorities from all over the world, including EU diplomats. “We emphatically call on all IDB member governments to establish this period of reflection and avoid unnecessary divisions to put continental coexistence at risk precisely when regional cooperation is more necessary than ever,” said the group in its statement.

Chile’s Foreign Minister Allamand said the administration of President Sebastián Piñera also favors postponing the election because the priority is for the bank to focus on reactivating the region’s economy – the world’s worst-hit by the pandemic. “We must avoid tensions from external factors so that [IDB] can turn all its energy to the reactivation of the region,” Allamand said.

Ignacio Briones, Chile’s Minister of Finance and official representative to the multilateral organization, has not yet weighed in, but the Chilean Foreign Ministry has started receiving calls from its Latin American neighbors who want to know more about the country’s decision, La Tercera reported. If more Latin American countries follow Chile’s determination, it could shut the door on Claver-Carone’s candidacy.

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