Chávez: goodbye IMF, WB

CARACAS — Venezuela said yesterday it has paid off its debts to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and is cutting ties to the two institutions, which the government of President Hugo Chávez accuses of perpetuating poverty and economic ills.

Caracas pays off multilateral loans, severs ties. “We are closing a historic cycle of indebtedness.”
CARACAS — Venezuela said yesterday it has paid off its debts to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and is cutting ties to the two institutions, which the government of President Hugo Chávez accuses of perpetuating poverty and economic ills.
‘‘My dear sirs at the World Bank, sirs at the International Monetary Fund — goodbye to you. Venezuela is free ... and sovereign,’’ Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas told state TV.
By making early payment on loans expiring in 2012, Venezuela saved US$8 million in interest payments, Cabezas said.
‘‘We are closing a historic cycle of indebtedness,’’ he added. ‘‘We do not have any debts (with them).’’
Officials from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were not immediately available for comment yesterday.
Chávez, who was elected in 1998 when Venezuela owed a total of US$3.3 billion to multilateral institutions, has fiercely criticized previous administrations for indebting the country to the International Monetary Fund and accepting macroeconomic policies blamed for high inflation and other problems that touched off deadly protests in 1989.
Shortly after taking power in 1999, Chávez had the government pay off all debts with the IMF, which closed its Venezuela office in late 2006. On Friday, Chávez announced that the country had made its final payment to the World Bank the day before.
Chávez has proposed founding an alternative ‘‘Bank of the South’’ to finance infrastructure and development in Latin America. (AP)

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