Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Latin America is better off without U.S.-backed lenders like the World Bank and that pulling out of institutions like the Organization of American States is an option if the bodies toe Washington's line.
During talks with his top leftist allies Sunday, Chavez lashed out at the OAS' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for challenging Venezuela's move not to renew the license of an opposition-aligned television station, calling it "the last straw."
Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose country nationalized its natural gas industry last year, raised complaints about the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a World Bank body that mediates disputes between governments and foreign investors.
"Governments in Latin America and I think all over the world never win the cases. The transnationals always win," Morales said.
Chavez backed his ally, saying "I didn't know that body existed, but we're pulling out anyway."
"Sooner or later, those institutions will fall due to their own weight. They will wear away _ the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and all those institutions," Chavez said. "We're better off without the Fund and without the World Bank."
He said Latin countries could create their own arbitration body for disputes with big companies.
Venezuela, which recently paid off all its debts to the IMF and World Bank, is not the only country in the region distancing itself from international lenders.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said he hopes to "get out of that prison" of IMF debt and that "we are negotiating with the Fund to leave the Fund."
Ecuador's leftist president, Rafael Correa, recently asked the World Bank's representative there to leave and said Ecuador paid off its debt to the IMF. Argentina also has paid back billions of dollars (euros) to the IMF.
Chavez offered a contribution of US$250 million (euro183 million) to a new regional cooperation fund as he hosted the two-day summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a leftist bloc and trade group that includes Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
He said Venezuela hopes to gradually sell off refineries in the United States and build new refineries across Latin America. He also said Venezuela will supply 100 percent of the energy needs for trade bloc members plus Haiti.
Chavez lashed out at the OAS commission for taking the case of Radio Caracas Television before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica. He accuses the channel of backing a 2002 coup, and his government plans not to renew its broadcast license when it expires May 28.
Chavez recalled that after the short-lived 2002 coup there was a "political battle" in the OAS over what stance to take on Venezuela.
"At that time I said if the OAS ... condemns Venezuela, Venezuela will pull out of the OAS," he said. "Cuba doesn't belong to the OAS, and Cuban's haven't died for not belonging."
"Those organizations, to the extent they continue to serve ... the interests of the (U.S.) empire, are delegitimized," he said, adding that Latin America has a right to "denounce those attacks and create our own institutions."