By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Inter-American Development Bank on Friday ousted the representative of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and replaced him with an economist backed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, a major setback for the Maduro government.
The decision makes Latin America’s largest regional lender the first financial institution to back Guaido and would free up development lending to Venezuela if Maduro steps down.
Guaido, who has the support of over 50 countries, including the United States and many in Latin America, named Harvard University economist Ricardo Hausmann as his representative to the IADB.
Washington has said that billions of dollars of financing from multilateral banks will be needed to rebuild Venezuela’s economy, which has been crippled by years of hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.
The IADB said in a statement the appointment of Hausmann was effective immediately, following a vote by the lender’s 48-member board of governors.
The Washington-headquartered lender said a sufficient number of members had voted “to meet the requirements of quorum and favourable votes for a decision.”
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund’s board of member countries agreed to delay a discussion on recognising Guaido until next week, board sources with knowledge of discussions told Reuters.
The board meeting, which was scheduled for Thursday, was delayed at the request of several European countries which needed to consult with their governments, the sources said.
Maduro retains the support of China, Russia, and some regional countries, including Cuba and Bolivia, whose leftist President Evo Morales criticized foreign meddling in Venezuela earlier on Friday.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O’Brien)