Tuesday, August 18, 2020

IDB battle lines deepen (Aug 18, 2020)

The controversy over the U.S. nomination of Mauricio Claver-Carone to head the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) continues to grow. The nomination of a U.S. citizen bucks the reigning geographic balance of power among international lending institutions, and has split countries in the region. (See last Tuesday's post.)

Yesterday El Salvador and Haiti co-nominated Claver-Carone, joining the ranks of other countries, like Guyana, that support the U.S. nominee. Claver-Caron has the support of 17 of the bank’s 28 member countries, reports Reuters.

But Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile, have about 22 percent of the vote, and a quorum of at least 75% of the bank’s voting shares must be present for the election to proceed. With a little support, they could feasibly force a postponement of the vote. A large group of former presidents, including Chilean Ricardo Lagos, Mexicans Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox, and Brazilian Fernando Henrique Cardoso joined the international chorus calling for a delay in the vote. (Europa Press)

Last week Claver-Carone warned that any move by a minority of shareholders to delay the election could jeopardize the bank’s ability to raise funds in the future.

There is growing dissent to Claver-Carone's nomination. U.S. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Monday said he was deeply concerned about Trump’s nomination of Claver-Carone for the five-year term shortly before the Nov. 3 presidential election. He called the nomination “a breach of precedent that would lock in place for half a decade someone who is potentially out of step with the next administration and would threaten the IDB’s governance and effectiveness moving forward.”

News Briefs

Regional Relations
  • Colombia and the U.S. announced a joint initiative aimed at bringing $5 billion in private investment to Colombia's rural areas over the next three years. Claver-Carone was part of the U.S. mission that negotiated the program in Colombia, and Colombian President Iván Duque reiterated support for the U.S. candidate to head the IDB, yesterday. (Reuters, Infobae)
  • The U.N. peace mission in Colombia condemned a spiral of violence engulfing the country, and said it had documented 33 massacres so far this year, reports AFP. The mission said it was investigating the deaths of 97 human rights defenders killed during the same period. At least 13 people were killed in two separate incidents in the last week alone. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Nariño province governor Jhon Alexánder Rojas has warned that the region is “in a state of anarchy – complete disorder” -- in the wake of one of last week's massacres, in which eight people were killed at a Saturday night barbecue. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Human Rights Watch urged Colombia's government to exhaust all legal avenues to secure the extradition of a former paramilitary commander, Salvatore Mancuso, from the United States. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said the pro-government Constitutional Assembly will cease to function in December, after scheduled legislative elections that will reconfigure the current opposition-led National Assembly. (AFP)
  • Two leftist parties traditionally allied with the Chavista PSUV announced yesterday that they will split off and run their own separate candidates in the December elections. (EFE)
  • Women's rights activists in Brazil helped escort a ten-year-old girl who sought an abortion after being raped, allegedly by her uncle. The girl was forced to pass through a gauntlet of anti-abortion activitsts, who were apparently tipped off by pro-Bolsonaro extremist Sara Giromini, though the location was supposed to be secret for security reasons, report the Guardian. The girl, whose identity was also revealed, was forced to fly 900 km after hospitals in her home province refused to grant her the procedure, which is permitted under Brazilian law.
  • Dozens of Indigenous Kayapo Mekragnotire community members, many daubed in black paint representing their grief and fighting spirit, blocked a major highway in Brazil’s Amazon to pressure the government for help in protecting them from Covid-19, reports the Associated Press.
  • Brazilian Economy Minister Paolo Guedes acknowledged his job is difficult, but said he doesn't plan to quit, reports Reuters.
  • Migrants from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Cuba, and Haiti converge at the Darien Gap, a wild, lawless expanse of nearly impassable jungle that straddles Northern Colombia and Panama, a nearly unavoidable point on the trip to the U.S. Without a legal way to pass through Panama, migrants are forced to trek days through the dangerous jungle where they are at the mercy of criminals and treacherous natural conditions, reports PBS with the Pulitzer Center.
  • Six successive Haitian administrations since 2008 have spent $2 billion in Venezuelan aid on projects, for the most part without concern for basic public funds management, according to a new report by Haiti's High Court of Auditors, which slammed the fraudulent and often illegal management by various ministers and administrations. (AFP)
  • Homicides are down in Guatemala this year, a trend that started even before the coronavirus lockdown effect. But other crimes are on the rise, notes the Latin America Risk Report.
  • Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said that a group of attackers trying to take possession of a ranch were responsible for a weekend attack on an Indigenous community that left about 15 houses burned. The armed men attacked the hamlet of Cubilgüitz, near the northern town of Cobán. They forced out about 40 families belonging to the q´eqchi Indigenous group and burned their homes. There were no reported injuries, but families lost most of their possessions, reports the Associated Press.
  • Mexico's government has promised social development programs for the Yaqui communities, which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called the country's most persecuted indigenous group. But the government's push comes as a Yaqui group leads a blockade of a key railway line that has provoked indignation among business leaders, reports the Associated Press.
  • Cuba's government reopened foreign currency stores in response to economic crisis on the island, but the move will exacerbate the gap between Cubans with access to U.S. dollars and those without, reports the Guardian. The stores are necessary for the government to obtain foreign currency, but the move is, ideologically, a hard-sell.
  • Ecuador’s Constitutional Court started hearings in a trial for rebellion against the Pichincha Prefect Paola Pabon, Virgilio Hernandez, and Christian Gonzalez, all of whom are members of the Citizen Revolution Movement, a party that supports former president Rafael Correa, reports Telesur. They are accused of organizing a rebellion during a national strike last year.
  • Thousands of protesters gathered in Argentine cities yesterday, generally against the government although the umbrella of rallying points was chaotic and included opposition to the government's proposed judicial reform, opposition to coronavirus lockdown measures, and general conspiracy theories. (EFE)

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