Latin America’s largest lender, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), voted on Friday (March 15) to replace President Nicolas Maduro’s representative with that of opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to a report by Reuters.
The move, which is seen as a setback for Maduro’s government, makes the IADB the first financial lender to recognize Guaido, and would allow for the freeing up of development lending if and when Maduro leaves.
Guaido is recognized as the leader of the country by most Western countries, including the U.S. and Latin America. His representative to the IADB is Harvard University Economist Ricardo Hausmann, and the vote came two weeks prior to the board of governors’ annual China meeting.
IADB’s largest shareholder is the U.S., which has said Venezuela will need billions in financing from banks that all countries can agree on using to rebuild the embattled country’s economy.
Venezuela has been hurt by hyperinflation of its currency, shortages of basics like food and medicine, and a failure of the country’s power grid.
Hausmann formerly worked for the IADB as its chief economist, and was also a minister of planning for Venezuela.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has delayed a discussion on whether to recognize Guaido at the behest of several European countries, which said they needed to talk to their own governments.
The endorsement of the IMF would allow Guaido even more legitimacy in the global financial community, while allowing Venezuela to have an option for financial assistance after Maduro potentially stepped down.
Also, IMF approval would allow for the World Bank to decide on Guaido.
Maduro took over as president of Venezuela in 2013 and was re-elected in 2018 in an election that is widely viewed as fraudulent. He says the country’s problems are the result of a U.S.-backed sabotage campaign.