Monday, October 25

CAF elects a new president, with the Colombian candidate as the favorite | Economy


Sergio Díaz Granados, President of the Development Bank of Latin America.
Sergio Díaz Granados, President of the Development Bank of Latin America.COURTESY

The Development Bank of Latin America, the expanded version of the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), will have a new president from Monday. The partners will choose in Mexico, in a blended vote, between the Colombian Sergio Díaz-Granados (Santa Marta, 52 years old), renowned Minister of Commerce and Industry during the government of Juan Manuel Santos, and the Argentine Christian Gonzalo Asinelli (Buenos Aires, 45 years), alternate representative of his country on the bank’s board of directors and in charge of the Secretariat for Strategic Affairs in Buenos Aires. The Colombian candidate is presented as a great favorite, with the open support of Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Uruguay. The Argentine has so far the votes of Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain and Portugal. The winner will run the second largest regional development bank, behind the IDB, for five years, with the option of re-election. The vote also implies the institutional normalization of the entity after the resignation of the Peruvian Luis Carranza, who advanced his departure due to complaints of workplace harassment.

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CAF was born 53 years ago as a multilateral bank made up of Andean countries, but various expansions have gradually transformed it into a regional one. In 2002 and 2009, Spain and Portugal joined as shareholders, and gave CAF an Ibero-American profile. Today it has 19 shareholder countries, 14 non-Andean, and a loan and investment portfolio of 28,000 million dollars, which will be key to promoting the recovery of the partners after the economic crisis generated by the covid-19 pandemic.

Colombia, convulsed by the recent protests, is seeking to score a bit in economic diplomacy. No Colombian has so far presided over the organization, despite the fact that the country is one of its founders and one of the great economic powers in the region. The bet on Díaz-Granados is well seen in wide economic and diplomatic circles. Not only does the candidate have strong backing in his country, he also offers a high-level track record. “It’s a great opportunity,” wrote the newspaper Time In an editorial, “a CAF bank led by Colombia would maintain the priorities that the social, economic and health crisis in the region demands.” The viewer He expressed himself along the same lines: “A Colombian should preside over the CAF.” “Díaz-Granados has made the best campaign,” the editorial concluded.

Sergio Díaz-Granados was Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism during the Government of Juan Manuel Santos, in a management applauded by Colombia’s trade agreements with the US and the EU. Also for normalizing relations with Venezuela and Ecuador, very touched after the governments of Álvaro Uribe. Before that, he had been a congressman under Uribe, and also a vice minister to Luis Guillermo Plata (the current ambassador to Spain). In addition, he chaired the Colombian Travel and Tourism Association (Anato).

Díaz-Granados has been in frenzy this past week trying to rally support. He has those of Uruguay and Brazil, plus that of the countries that promoted his candidacy, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador itself. In recent days he met with representatives of the governments of Paraguay and Panama. The Argentine candidate has also paid attention to those countries. He has already lost the support of Brazil and Uruguay, his partners in Mercosur, and awaits the decision of Paraguay. Before their arrival in Mexico, the Argentine delegation made a stopover in Panama. All diplomatic efforts, however, were put in Peru, which has a double vote. The presidential candidate Pedro Castillo has expressed his support for the Argentine Asinelli, but the delay in his proclamation in Lima will leave the vote of the Peruvian representatives, who respond to the interim government of Francisco Sagasti, on the side of the Colombian Díaz-Granados.

The direction of CAF is an important bet for Argentina, which aspires to be the first non-Andean country to occupy it. Success would have the flavor of revenge. Buenos Aires in the past led the opposition in the IDB to the appointment as president of the American Mauricio Claver-Carone, candidate chosen by Donald Trump. The election of Claver-Carone broke the IDB tradition of reserving the address to a Latin American. The Argentine attempts, finally, failed, and Claver-Carone occupies the address today. Asinelli, in an interview with EL PAÍS, promised to work for the bank’s capitalization, key given the greed for fresh money from the partners, as a result of the pandemic, and to end the governance problems that followed the resignation of the Peruvian Carranza.

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