South American nations to launch IMF rival

Venezuela's leftist government is leading Brazil, Argentina and other regional economies in creating a new bank with the ambition of casting off unwelcome oversight by the IMF and World Bank.

The finance and economy ministers of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela met last week in Rio de Janeiro to outline the main elements of the "Banco del Sur" -- or Bank of the South.

"There will not be credit subjected to economic policies. There will not be credit that produces a calamity for our people and as a result, it will not be a tool of domination," said Venezuelan Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabeza.

Chavez speaks of liberating regional countries from the tutelage of the IMF, the World Bank and the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which, he argues, impose economic policies that condemn millions to poverty.

Bolstered by robust economic growth, Latin American countries are displaying a new assertiveness toward the IMF now that several of them -- notably Brazil and Argentina -- have paid off their debts early.

The Bank of the South is supposed to finance public and private projects for development and regional integration. The official launch and the signing of a founding charter is set for November 3 in Caracas, which will host the bank's headquarters.


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