Chavez 'digging a hole' for Venezuelans: US
May 2, 2007 - 9:23:35 AM

Washington, May 2 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is 'digging a hole' for his people by withdrawing his country's membership from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the US State Department said.

'You can't take the shovel out of the man's hand. He just keeps on digging,' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday. 'And sadly, it's the Venezuelan people who are victimised by this.'

'I think he's digging a hole for the Venezuelan people,' he added.

Chavez announced Monday he was pulling out of the two international finance agencies, calling them 'instruments of US imperialism'.

He made the pronouncement as thousands of Venezuelan workers stormed foreign-operated oilfields to celebrate the nationalisation of the world's fifth-largest oil industry, timed to coincide with the traditional workers' holiday May Day.

The US has previously criticised the move against oil interests.

'There are currently negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the oil companies,' McCormack said. 'And those are going to proceed as they will.'

The World Bank and IMF had no immediate comment on Chavez' decision.

The US - a major importer of Venezuelan oil - accuses the Venezuelan leader of eroding democratic institutions in the country.

'It's sadly the case that it is not just the Venezuelan elite around President Chavez who suffer as a result of these decisions,' McCormack said. 'It's really the Venezuelan people who suffer.'

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