According to press reports, the Trump Administration plans to nominate Mauricio Claver-Carone to be the next President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). It is also my understanding that a number of Latin American governments have already expressed support for his nomination.
someone who has supported the IDB for decades, including at times when
amendments were proposed to eliminate or reduce the U.S. contribution, it is
important to be aware that this nomination could jeopardize United States
support for, and cooperation with, that institution. Further, if the U.S. Treasury Department and
other IDB shareholders believe this nominee will help to build support for a
capital increase for the Bank in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, of
which I am Vice Chairman, Mr. Claver-Carone is the wrong nominee to make the
case for such an increase.
nomination would break a 60-year precedent that a Latin American serves as
President of the IDB and a U.S. citizen serves as Executive Vice
President. That precedent exists for a
reason. The Bank is an institution
working to improve the lives of millions of people in Latin America and the
Caribbean, and absent a compelling reason to the contrary it should continue to
be led by a person from the region it serves.
There are any number of Latin Americans who are well-qualified for the
job, and who would be supported by the United States.
disappointed, albeit not surprised, that the Trump Treasury Department would
nominate such a controversial candidate as Mr. Claver-Carone. As senior director for Western Hemisphere
Affairs at the National Security Council, he has been the architect of
President Trump’s most ideologically-driven policies toward Latin America –
policies that have failed to achieve any of their stated goals. In fact, these ineffective policies have made
resolving conflicts with governments we disagree with more difficult, and they
have complicated our relations with friends and allies.
Claver-Carone’s idea of diplomacy is often to admonish and impose sanctions,
which in Latin America more often than not means unilateral sanctions, which
have isolated the United States, emboldened those who the sanctions are
intended to punish, and harmed people in those countries who we want to
help. While there are circumstances when
well-designed sanctions make sense, Mr. Claver-Carone seems to believe that
even when it is obvious that sanctions have failed the solution is to tighten
them rather than fix them. This approach
to regional problems is wholly unsuited for the IDB, whose shareholders have
traditionally supported the institution, in part, because of its long history
of addressing regional priorities. A
polarizing American at the helm could intensify divisions, weaken shareholder
support, and diminish the Bank’s ability to carry out its mission on behalf of
the people it was established to serve.
worry that a Claver-Carone presidency at the IDB would set the Bank on a
collision course with its largest shareholder, the United States, should Vice
President Biden win in November.
Electing Mr. Claver-Carone to a five-year term just weeks before the
U.S. presidential election, coupled with his unpopularity with some Members of
Congress, including key members of the Senate and House Appropriations
Committees, would not bode well for United States support for the Bank in the
these reasons, I urge the IDB Board of Governors to carefully consider the
enormity of the economic, public health, political, and other challenges
currently confronting Latin America, and the implications of Mr.
Claver-Carone’s election shortly before the U.S. presidential election. These challenges have been greatly compounded
by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will have grave ramifications for the social,
economic, and political stability of the region for years to come.
for steady IDB leadership that can build consensus during this time of regional
uncertainty has never been more evident than it is today.
unanimous consent that an article in The Economist on the Claver-Carone
nomination be printed in the Record.
takeover bid for the Inter-American Development Bank
United States breaks a gentlemen’s agreement
was founded in 1959, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has had just
four presidents: a Chilean, a Mexican, a Uruguayan and, since 2005, Luis
Alberto Moreno, a Colombian. Under the gentlemen’s agreement by which it was
founded, Latin America has the presidency and a small majority of the capital
while the United States has the number-two job and some informal vetoes over
how the bank is run. The IDB has not been free of the faults of such
institutions, such as bureaucracy and a degree of cronyism, but it has played
an important role in the region. It lends around $12bn a year for
infrastructure, health, education and so on, does some useful research and
advises governments. It has also been a channel of communication between the
two halves of the Americas.
Trump doesn’t believe in gentlemen’s agreements, and his administration this
week broke this one. The Treasury Department named Mauricio Claver-Carone, the
top official for Latin America at the National Security Council (NSC), as its
candidate to replace Mr Moreno, who is due to step down in September. Mr
Claver-Carone, a Cuban-American, is technically qualified for the post. He has
been an adviser to the Treasury and a representative to the IMF, and was
involved in the Trump administration’s initiatives on development finance. He
has told interlocutors that he would serve only one term at the IDB, would
bring fresh ideas and would be better placed than a Latin American to get the
Treasury’s crucial support for a capital increase that would give the bank
resources to mitigate the covid-19 slump in the region. These are things that
many in Latin America might welcome.
Claver-Carone is a controversial choice, and not just because his nomination
breaks with tradition. At the NSC he has been the chief architect of Mr Trump’s
Venezuela policy, which has failed in its aim of getting rid of the
dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. “He’s a guy who comes with very Miami-type
baggage, adversarial to Cuba and Venezuela and representing a conservative alliance,”
says a Latin American diplomat. “He would bring ideology directly into the
bank.” Mr Claver-Carone walked out of the inauguration of Argentina’s
president, Alberto Fernández, in December because of the presence of a
Venezuelan minister. Many who have dealt with him describe him as arrogant and
the Trump administration’s cold war against China, Mr Claver-Carone’s
appointment as head of the IDB might force Latin America to choose between the
two countries, which the region is reluctant to do. Although China is granting
fewer loans to Latin America than it did recently, it remains one of the
region’s most important trade partners. The Trump administration was furious
with Mr Moreno for agreeing to hold the bank’s annual meeting in China in 2019
(though in the event it was delayed and moved to Ecuador because of a row over
who represented Venezuela). Mr Claver-Carone has his own animus against Mr
Moreno, who vetoed his appointment as the bank’s vice-president.
Latin America the loss of the IDB presidency would be a big diplomatic defeat,
reflecting the region’s weakness and ideological division. Its leaders are a
generally unimpressive bunch. They have failed to unite behind a candidate of
their own. Diplomats expected the job to go either to Brazil or to Argentina.
Jair Bolsonaro’s government in Brazil informally canvassed support for Rodrigo
Xavier, an experienced banker. Argentina’s putative candidate, Gustavo Béliz,
is a competent former IDB official, but its centre-left government has few
allies in the region. Brazil looks likely to back Mr Claver-Carone, mainly
because Mr Bolsonaro has aligned himself closely with Mr Trump. Other smaller
countries may, too, because they are desperate for money.
president must secure a double majority, of countries representing 50% of the IDB’s
shares (the United States has 30% and Brazil 11%) and separately of the 28
members in the Americas. That may yet be a problem for Mr Claver-Carone.
biggest reason to oppose his nomination is that he represents a polarizing
administration that may well lose an election in November, making him “the
earliest lame duck in history”, as a South American official puts it. The
sensible course would be to extend Mr Moreno’s term until next year, both to give
time for other candidates to emerge and to see whether Mr Claver-Carone really
represents the United States.
About Senator Leahy
Patrick Leahy was elected to the United States
Senate in 1974 and remains the only Democrat elected to this office from
Vermont. At 34, he was the youngest U.S.
Senator ever to be elected from the Green Mountain State.
was born in Montpelier and grew up across from the State House. A graduate of Saint Michael's College in
Colchester (1961), he received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law
Center (1964). He served for eight years
as State's Attorney in Chittenden County where he gained a national reputation
for his law enforcement activities and was selected as one of three outstanding
prosecutors in the United States in 1974.
the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He is the senior-most
member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and of the Senate Agriculture
Committee. Leahy is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on
State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. He ranks first in
seniority in the Senate.
on human rights issues, Leahy is the leading U.S. officeholder in the
international campaign against the production, export and use of anti-personnel
landmines. In 1992, Leahy wrote the
first law by any government to ban the export of these weapons. He led efforts in Congress to aid mine
victims by creating a special fund in the foreign aid budget, and the Leahy War
Victims Fund now provides up to $14 million of relief to these victims each
year. He was instrumental in
establishing programs to support humanitarian demining and played a key role in
pushing for an international treaty banning anti-personnel mines. He also wrote and enacted civilian war
victims relief programs in Afghanistan and Iraq.
immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, Leahy headed the
Senate's negotiations on the 2001 anti-terrorism bill, the USA PATRIOT
Act. He added checks and balances to the
bill to protect civil liberties, provisions to triple staffing along the
U.S.-Canada border, to authorize domestic preparedness grants to states, and to
facilitate the hiring of new FBI translators.
Judiciary Committee investigation into the mass firings of U.S. Attorneys and
of White House attempts to exert political influence over the Justice
Department led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the
Department's entire top rank of political appointees in 2008.
the chief sponsor of the Innocence Protection Act, which addresses flaws in the
administration of capital punishment.
Parts of Leahy's death penalty reform package, which were enacted in
2004, help reduce the risks that innocent people are executed by providing for
post-conviction DNA testing and better access to competent legal counsel.
on Internet and technology issues, Leahy was the second senator to post a
homepage. His website consistently has
been named one of the Senate's best, and a leading Internet magazine called
Leahy the most "Net-friendly" member of Congress. He has been the Senate's leading champion of
open government and of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and in 1996 was
installed in the FOIA Hall of Fame in recognition of his efforts. He is one of only two politicians ever
awarded the John Peter Zenger Press Freedom Award. An avid and accomplished photographer, Leahy’s
photography has been published in USA TODAY, The New York Times, Time Magazine
and Roll Call.
has crusaded for the protection of privacy rights, copyright protections and
freedom of speech on the Internet. He
was a co-founder and remains a co-chair of the Congressional Internet
Caucus. Leahy has taken the lead on
several privacy issues, including drafting legislation to address data and
email privacy and security and leading the effort to enact privacy safeguards
for electronic health records.
ranked among the top environmental legislators by the nation's foremost
conservation organizations, Leahy successfully opposed attempts to allow oil
and gas exploration in wildlife refuges in the United States, including the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and the Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge in
Vermont. Leahy helped secure more than
$70 million in federal funds to clean up Lake Champlain and spearheaded
congressional efforts to tackle the dangers of mercury pollution. He worked to add more than 125,000 acres to
the Green Mountain National Forest, an accomplishment matched by few lawmakers
of any era.
led bipartisan efforts to streamline the Department of Agriculture, and the
1994 Leahy-Lugar bill reorganized the U.S. Department of Agriculture by closing
1100 offices and saving more than $2 billion.
Leahy led the successful effort to extend the Conservation Reserve
Program, which assists farmers in meeting environmental objectives without
reducing income. Leahy's Farms for the
Future program -- now the Farmland Protection Program, which was created in the
1990 Farm Bill -- helped preserve more than 350 Vermont farms. He played a crucial role in enactment and
implementation of the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact and also worked with
others in the Vermont Congressional Delegation in establishing the Milk Income
Loss Compensation (MILC) program, modeled on the Compact. Leahy also is the father of the national
organic standards and labeling program, which took effect in October 2002.
co-chairs the Senate National Guard Caucus and led in ensuring that members of
the National Guard in Vermont and across the nation receive the necessary
resources to fulfill their heightened missions after 9/11. In 2003 the National Guard Association
presented Leahy with its highest individual honor, the Harry S. Truman Award,
for his "sustained contributions of exceptional and far-reaching magnitude
to the defense and security of the United States in a manner worthy of
recognition at the national level."
Leahy has been married to Marcelle Pomerleau Leahy since 1962. They have a daughter, two sons, and five
grandchildren. The Leahys live on a tree
farm in Middlesex, Vermont.