Laura Chinchilla: “We need candidates for the IDB who do not polarize”

Laura Chinchilla was President of Costa Rica between 2010 and 2014 and previously Vice President of Oscar Arias. She is well known in Latin America and in the American capital, where she teaches at Georgetown University and is a director of the Inter-American Dialogue analysis center. At the beginning of the year, Chinchilla marched with chances to lead the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where he was competing with Argentine Gustavo Béliz, among others, but the nomination of a candidate close to Donald Trump, Mauricio Claver Carone, broke a tradition of 60 years as he was the first American to stand for the post traditionally reserved for a Latin American.

This move caused the rejection of much of the region, but it was supported by Brazil and Colombia, among other countries, and would have the votes to be elected. The election is scheduled for September in virtual form, but now there is an initiative, supported by the EU, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica to postpone them due to the pandemic until March of next year and thus complicate the chances of Claver Carone, of origin Cuban and very critical of the situation in Cuba and Venezuela.

In dialogue with Clarín, Chinchilla pointed out that at the IDB “we need candidates who do not polarize” and that “politicizing the bank’s management would put its credibility and also its financial soundness at risk,” in reference to the US candidate. The Costa Rican sounds like a possible consensus candidate in the face of a very controversial election: “I have the conditions to try,” she said.

– How do you evaluate the appearance of an American in the competition?

– It has never been in me to disqualify anyone based on their nationality. But there are two important things to analyze. First, there was an abrupt change in the rules of the game and this we cannot ignore. Second, it is necessary to reflect on what profile the president of an institution like the IDB should have. I think it is appropriate, for the times we are living in, a person who manages to have a very broad spectrum vision, who does not polarize, who does not divide. Also, do not get the bank into political processes. The great strength that the IDB has had so far is that it has been a non-partisan institution, outside of politics, and I think that is one of the conditions that should be guaranteed. In other words, if it gets there, it will not politicize the bank’s management because it would put its credibility and also its financial soundness at risk.

-How do you think Claver Carone would politicize the administration?

– We were concerned that the polarization that had taken place in the election of the OAS would be repeated in the Bank. It could be understood that certain discussions took place at the OAS, but trying to make the IDB go through the same process was something that worried Costa Rica from the first moment. At first we saw an election where Brazil and Argentina were going to be, and that was where Costa Rica saw that there was an opportunity to raise a candidacy from a country that has been, in general terms, a good composer for the region. My role, moreover, has been quite equidistant from the extremes or from the discussions that have been charged from one side or the other. Regardless of whether it is a candidate who comes from the United States, we need candidates who do not polarize.

-Can the initiative to postpone the election until March due to the pandemic prosper? It will be known by then whether or not Trump remains in the White House, a crucial piece of information.

– There are countries in the region and outside the region that deserve to be heard for their concerns and that also have a significant shareholding percentage. An expression of will has been made, but we have to take one more step and I imagine that they will be exploring it because it is not my job as a candidate that I am, but it is strictly a matter for the governors.

-Claver Carone denounced that Argentina was trying to “hijack” these elections in September with a “hindering” tactic. What do you think?

– I believe that no candidate should disqualify one of the IDB partners. If I expected something from this process, it was precisely that it be competitive. It seems to me that the position of Argentina must be respected as well as that of Chile and other positions that these days have also said the opposite in other countries such as Bolivia or Guyana. I am concerned that the handling of this discussion could affect or leave consequences on the IDB’s governance and that we should try to avoid it.

-Why does the US candidate denounce Argentina directly and not Chile or other countries that supported the measure?

– You will understand that I am an interested party in this. Regardless if it is Argentina or Chile or if it is Costa Rica, it is not right to disqualify any nation that is currently represented on the IDB’s board of directors and its board of directors, simply based on criteria of convenience.

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