March 4, 2019 / 10:17 PM / 14 days ago

Venezuela's Guaido pushes to name new representative to regional lender

(Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido named Harvard University economist Ricardo Hausmann as the country’s representative to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Guaido’s envoy to the United States said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard University speaks on Day 1 of Securing Sport 2015 - the annual conference of the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS). Photo Andrew Kelly for ICSS/File Photo

The regional lender confirmed it had received a letter from Guaido naming Hausmann and said it was considering how to proceed.

“We’ve received the letter and are determining next steps,” a bank official told Reuters.

Venezuela poses a tricky problem for the Washington-based lender, whose charter prevents its board from discussing internal political issue of member states. If the board agrees to accept Guaido’s representative, it would be the first financial institution to make such a move.

Guaido has not yet named representatives to the World Bank or International Monetary Fund, two other multilateral institutions whose support would be key to turn around the Venezuelas economy, which is plagued by hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods.

Guaido, who calls socialist President Nicolas Maduro a usurper after Maduro won re-election in a May 2018 vote widely seen as fraudulent, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January. He has been recognised as the OPEC nation’s legitimate leader by most Western countries, including the United States.

Maduro has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet who is seeking to foment a coup.

Hausmann, an economics professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, served as Venezuela’s planning minister and as a member of the board of the country’s central bank in the 1990s. He has also served as the country’s governor for the IDB and World Bank, and was the IDB’s chief economist for several years.

“We continue moving closer to getting our country back and ending the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” Carlos Vecchio, Guaido’s envoy to the United States, wrote on Twitter, posting a letter to the IADB’s board dated Feb. 28 naming Hausmann governor.

In his bid to challenge Maduro’s power, Guaido has effectively begun to create a parallel government by naming his own ambassadors to several key countries as well as boards of directors for state-owned oil company PDVSA and Citgo, its U.S. refining subsidiary.

In a tweet on Jan. 23 - the day Guaido took the oath of office - IADB President Luis Alberto Moreno recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president and said the bank was “willing to work with him” to support Venezuela’s development.

Venezuela’s current IADB governor is Oswaldo Javier Perez Cuevas, an official in the country’s finance ministry, according to the IADB’S website. The Washington-based lender invests in infrastructure and other development projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Hausmann did not immediately responded to a request for comment. A source close to the Venezuelan opposition said Hausmann’s appointment still had to be confirmed by the country’s National Assembly, which is currently led by Guaido.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry, which handles media requests on behalf of the government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Luc Cohen and Lesley Wroughton; Additional reporting by Mayela Armas in Caracas; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker

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