VIO News Blog

January 8, 2009

Getting Warmer: Venezuela Continues Home Heating Oil Donations to US

“We never stopped the program,” Citgo’s President Alejandro Granado (pictured at right) said yesterday at a press conference confirming that Venezuela’s oil subsidiary will continue to dole out cut-rate heating oil to low-income Americans. Although news sources had reported that Citgo suspended heating oil deliveries, no Venezuelan officials — including President Chavez — ever said the program would cease.

The Boston Globe highlights the discrepancy: because of a slight delay, the charity Citizens Energy “said it thought Citgo’s indecision meant the program would be suspended.” Venezuela had indeed been examining its charitable spending, but there was no “reversal” on the U.S. program. Joe Kennedy of Citizens Energy yesterday thanked Chavez for his “genuine concern for the most vulnerable, regardless of where they may live.”

Time Magazine points out that, for four years, Venezuela has helped offset the burden of energy costs faced by American families while U.S. oil firms and the Bush administration have refused to do so. Citgo’s donations last year totaled $100 million, and reached about a quarter of a million families.

In other news, the AP reports that Chavez commented on the U.S. role in Gaza yesterday, saying he will wait to see if President elect Obama can “stop the aggression.” The Venezuelan leader added: “This is Obama’s first test along with the war in Iraq, and respect for the people of Latin America.” An analyst told the AP that differing views on the Middle East means more hurdles for U.S.-Venezuela relations, but that they are “not insurmountable.”

Protests against Israel’s attacks have been occurring in many Latin American countries, according to a McClatchy wire story. The largest has been in Argentina. Marches are expected in Caracas today.

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