Newsmakers : Iglesias’ Early Departure Prompts Race For Successor

Latin America


Iglesias: Stepping down

Enrique V. Iglesias, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), has decided to cut short his current five-year term in order to hand over control to “new hands.” Iglesias, 74, has been at the multilateral bank’s helm for 17 years and leaves his successor with some rather large shoes to fill.

Elected to the bank’s presidency in 1988, as Latin America was emerging from its “lost decade” of runaway debt and inflation, Iglesias was re-elected in 1993, 1998 and 2003. His latest term was slated to run through 2008. Under his watch the IADB’s capital was raised from $26.5 billion to $101 billion, while the investment grade-rated bank became a frequent issuer on international debt markets.

“It would be difficult to overstate the contribution that Enrique has made to the Inter-American Development Bank and to economic development in Latin American and Caribbean nations over the last 18 years,” said US treasury secretary John Snow in response to Iglesias’ decision to step down on September 30.

Before joining the IADBthe world’s oldest and largest regional development bankIglesias was president of Uruguay’s central bank and the country’s foreign minister. He was also executive secretary of the United Nations Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and chairman of the conference that spawned the Uruguay Round of international trade negotiations. He will now become the first secretary general of the Ibero-American Summit.

Iglesias is only the third IADB president since it was founded in 1959. So far, there is talk that, because the US is the bank’s largest shareholder, with 30% of the voting power, and hosts the IADB headquarters in Washington, the next president could be a Washington insider. By late June only Brazilian central bank governor Joo Sayad and his Nicaraguan counterpart, Luis Alberto Moreno, were official candidates, though others were expected to emerge.

Member nations have until July 16 to submit nominations, with elections set for July 27.

Antonio Guerrero