Mérida, 13th July 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The first operational meeting of the Bank of the South (Banco del Sur) was held in Caracas on Wednesday, amid calls for more Latin American nations to join the initiative.
Held in the headquarters of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), representatives of six of the seven Bank of the South member states attended the meeting including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela. The only member state not represented was Paraguay, which was suspended from the initiative last year, following the ousting of the former president, Fernando Lugo.
Venezuela's foreign minister Elías Jaua stated that the purpose of the meeting was “to flesh out the structure” of the bank, including discussion on a timetable for capital contributions from member states and the process of appointing directorships. In the opening ceremony of the talks, Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patiño described the meeting as a “historic event”, and encouraged other nations in the region to consider joining the bank.
“The doors are open at the Bank of the South to other neighbouring countries,” Patiño stated.
The bank was first launched in December 2007, following calls from the former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for an alternative to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, with a focus on financing infrastructure and social development projects in the region. The initiative was furthered in September 2009, when members formally agreed to provide start-up capital of US$20 billion.
On Wednesday, Patiño cited investment in roads and energy infrastructure on the continent as likely examples of projects to be undertaken by the bank once it becomes fully operational.
“Progress in Latin America will be tremendously enhanced by the birth of this wonderful institution,” he said.
Jaua described the bank as one of many initiatives “in the context of that beautiful experience of unity in diversity that is the Union of South American Nations.”
The bank is likely to become operational after representatives hold a second meeting in July, Venezuelan Finance Minister Nelson Merentes has told Venezuelan media.