US President Donald Trump's candidate to head the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB or IDB, BID in Spanish) accused Argentina of trying to "obstruct" his election this week, as the race for the top job at the institution heated up.
Mauricio Claver-Carone told a press conference that 17 countries were supporting his bid, and denounced the "tactics" of the President Alberto Fernández's government, accusing it of trying to delay the vote until next year due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, with the help of Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica.
"We are seeing a minority effort, led by Argentina, to hinder the election because they have not been able to present a competitive vision," he said, adding that the United States would resist "any attempt to hijack" the voting.
Claver-Carone portrays himself as a breath of fresh air for an organisation that has had just four chiefs in six decades, but his eventual presidency would also mean breaking a non-written tradition where a Latin American heads this bank.
The Trump adviser promised that the United States would fight back against "any attempt to hijack "the vote scheduled for September.
"They want to steal the ball and run off the field. Obviously, games are not played that way. There are rules," Claver-Carone told reporters.
The remarks by Claver-Carone, the director of Latin American affairs in Trump's National Security Council who is of Cuban descent, were described as "aggressive" by Chile's representative Andres Allamand.
"They confirm that his election would be clearly inadequate," he said on Twitter.
Argentina has pushed for the leadership of the bank – which comprises 48 Latin American, Caribbean, and European nations plus the United States, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea and China – to remain in the hands in Latin American hands. But it made no comment except to reiterate that the vote should be pushed back until March.
"We are immobilised by the pandemic and such a crucial vote should take place in person," said Foreign Minister Felipe Solá, stressing support for his country's candidate Gustavo Beliz.
Costa Rica, which is pushing its former president Laura Chinchilla for the post, backed the Casa Rosada’s position, as did Mexico and Chile.
On Thursday, during a conference call with the international outlets, Claver-Carone, said that Washington was “on the side of Colombia" in the face of threats from Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and narco-terrorist groups on the border.
Claver-Carone’s election would place a Trump ally at the top of the IDB for the next half decade, even if Trump loses his re-election bid to Biden in November. The US seized the opportunity after Latin America’s three largest economies failed to agree on a candidate.