Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is spreading hundreds of millions of oil dollars around South America in an effort to limit the influence of the International Monetary Fund and forge a strong alliance. Chavez began a four-nation tour in Argentina referring to the IMF as "Dracula" and called for a united front against the US.
In Argentina he promised to buy up $1 billion in debt and build a refinery; he's expected offer similar economic and energy deals to Uruguay, Ecuador and Bolivia. "We need to unite, and the North American empire doesn't want us to unite," he said. Argentina paid off all its IMF debt in 2006; critics now worry that the nation will be "Chavez dependent."