Bank of the South To Launch On Nov. 3 in Venezuela

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: The Bank of the South — once just a gleam in the eye of South American leaders — now has a due date.

Finance Ministers from seven nations announced Monday that the
multinational funding institute, which will operate similarly to the
Inter-American Development Bank, will be founded Nov. 3 in Caracas,

The bank is the brainchild of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who
has been promoting it as an alternative to the International Monetary
Fund, which he blames for perpetuating poverty and contributing to
inflation in Latin America.

"We can now say that the Bank of the South is about to become
reality," Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters in
Rio de Janeiro. "It will finance integration and will be open to all of
South America's 12 countries."

"There is still important work to be concluded," Mantega said,
adding that the countries involved have yet to determine details such
as the bank's financial structure and how much each nation will

Chavez has touted the bank as a counterweight to U.S. influence and a way for the region to chart its own economic course.

But Venezuelan Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas said Monday that
"the bank is not against anything or anyone. It is in favor of the
people of South America."

"This is not a bank of one country or of one president," he added.

The bank will lend for development projects at interest rates
similar to those charged by other multilateral institutions, Mantega

He added that the finance ministers of each member nation will sit
on the bank's administrative council and that each country will have
one vote.

The launch date was agreed to during a daylong meeting between the
finance ministers of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay,
Uruguay and Venezuela.