Chavez Says Alba Countries to Propose ‘Monetary Zone’

The Alba trade bloc, formed by Venezuela as an alternative to a U.S.-backed hemispheric free trade area, is considering the creation of a single “monetary zone” to strengthen member economies amid a global slowdown.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said a common currency may help increase trade among Latin American countries


Chavez called on Alba member countries and Ecuador to agree to a process to create a common currency within two or three years, which he suggested should be called the sucre,
The members should aim to implement a common accounting unit by Jan. 1.

He said previous proposals for economic cooperation, such as his plan for a South American development bank called the Bank of the South, have been held up because countries in the region don’t believe in them.

“What happened with the Bank of the South? It’s frozen,” the Venezuelan president said. “There are countries that don’t want the Bank of the South.”

Venezuela is willing to contribute at least $500 million of its international reserves immediately to create a “common monetary fund” for Latin American countries, and he asked other countries to contribute a portion of their own reserves.


Chavez, who has spent the past 10 years working to implement socialist policies in Venezuela,

Chavez also threatened to pull out of the Washington-based IMF in April 2007 and never followed through.


Chavez also criticized the Caracas-based Andean Development Corp., a multilateral lender that is owned by 17 governments in Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain, including Venezuela, and by 15 private banks. Chavez threatened to close the bank and take over its headquarters to start his own lender.

Chavez will meet later today with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss energy deals,

A fleet of Russian naval ships arrived in Venezuela yesterday and will conduct exercises with the Venezuelan navy that coincide with Medvedev’s visit.

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Official South American Union Created *

South American Union Will Also Have Common Currency