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Latin America round up: Hugo Chávez watch

This month’s plans for a Latin American regional bank hit the rocks as Brazil raised objections to president Hugo Chávez’s plans for the bank.

In accordance with his aim of moving Latin America more to the left, and away from US-influenced institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, the Venezuelan head of state has pushed the idea of a Bank of the South. However, ahead of a meeting, scheduled for mid-August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Venezuela are in disagreement over its base of operations, size, start-up capital and mission. The disagreements highlight the growing differences between President Lula of Brazil, who has embraced market-friendly policies, and Chávez. These new disputes, which include differences about whether start-up costs should be $7 billion, as Chávez wants, or $3 billion as Lula proposes, are only another obstacle that the regional bank has to overcome. Critics of Chávez note that Latin American development banks, such as BNDES in Brazil and Corporación Andina de Fomento in Venezuela, are already flourishing, making a new bank unnecessary.

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