VIO News Blog

January 30, 2009

Venezuela Donates Home Heating Oil in Washington, DC

Venezuela’s U.S. oil subsidiary, Citgo, officially launched the fourth season of its home heating oil assistance program at an event in Washington, DC yesterday. This year, the massive charity effort undertaken with Citizen’s Energy will distribute about 45 million gallons of cut-rate oil (valued at $75 million dollars) to 200,000 families across 23 U.S. states.

Citgo President Alejandro Granado dispelled rumors that the program had ended, explaining, “there was a misunderstanding.” He also said the program is intended in part to “build bridges between the people of Venezuela and the United States.”

The St. Petersburg Times wrongly reported yesterday that President Chavez’s “popularity depends on having an adversary in the White House.” His approval ratings remain consistently high at home, but not because of disagreements with former President Bush, but because of social and economic policies that have had an impact at home. The Times also claims that the Venezuelan leader is “at a loss about how to handle the Obama phenomenon.” After a decade in elected office, Chavez is hardly disoriented. Many forget that he visited the White House shortly after being elected the first time and met President Clinton. With Obama, he has avoided jumping to conclusions about what the tone of Venezuela-U.S. relations will be, often saying he has no “illusions” but expressing desire for dialogue.

Sources report today on the ninth annual World Social Forum taking place in Brazil, an alternative summit that drew many important Latin American leaders who opted to skip the simultaneous World Economic Forum in Davos. Bloomberg reports that a top policy adviser to Lula said: “I don’t see any reason for him to be in Davos and many for him to be at the World Social Forum.”

According to the AP, “the loudest cheers were for Chavez.” One activist said: “Chavez is fighting for people like me and his presence validates our movement.” 100,000 are attending the forum.

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