South American leaders are currently in summit on the island of Margarita, Venezuela, to discuss energy issues facing the region, the most controversial of which is ethanol production. Hugo Chavez, president of the host country, has spoken out against ethanol use, saying that it would waste land and drive up food prices; meanwhile, Brazil recently entered into an agreement with the United States to increase ethanol production in developing countries throughout the Caribbean and Central America. President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina is expected to mediate the discussion. The summit will also address proposed ideas such as a continental gas pipeline project and a South American banking institution that would serve as an alternative to the IMF.
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