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Chavez says IMF is selling gold cheap

Section: Daily Dispatches

From The Associated Press
Saturday, April 12, 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that his government could afford to buy some of the International Monetary Fund's gold reserves as the Washington-based lender faces hard times.

Chavez raised that idea with a chuckle as the IMF, the lender of last resort for countries in trouble, considers trimming costs by selling off some of its gold reserves.

"Look at how the U.S. empire must be in unimpeded decline, that the International Monetary Fund ... is selling its crown jewels," Chavez said during a speech at a military parade.

"The International Monetary Fund is selling what gold it has left to be able to pay salaries," Chavez said. "We could give a loan to the monetary fund. ... We could buy some gold bars. ... I think they're selling gold cheap."

Chavez spoke as the IMF and World Bank were holding weekend discussions in Washington. One proposal on the agenda would trim 15 percent of the IMF's staff and sell about $11 billion in the institutions' vast gold reserves.

A vociferous critic of the U.S. government, Chavez also has long opposed the policies of the IMF and the World Bank. He called the IMF "the financial arm of the empire."

The leftist leader spoke during a parade marking the anniversary of a failed 2002 coup that briefly drove him from power. He accuses U.S. President George W. Bush's government of being behind the coup, which U.S. officials deny.

Speaking to troops, Chavez said of the U.S.: "It's an empire in decline, but it's still very dangerous."

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