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 Post subject: Venezuela cares more about Americans than Washington
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:40 am 
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Published on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 by the New York Daily News

Oil For Bronx Poor is a Foreign Gift
Santa Claus, make way for Santa Chavez

by Juan Gonzalez

Poor residents and nonprofit groups in the South Bronx are about to receive a huge Christmas gift from Venezuela's firebrand President Hugo Chavez: Eight-million gallons of heating oil at bargain-basement prices.

Two months ago, in an interview with the Daily News during his visit to the United Nations, Chavez first made the startling offer of cheap fuel for this winter from his oil-rich country to a handful of poor communities in the United States.

At the time, critics of the radical populist Chavez, the Bush administration's biggest nemesis in South America, scoffed at his proposal.

But the Venezuelan leader is about to deliver.

"The first shipments of low-cost fuel from CITGO will begin arriving in my district by late next week," U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-South Bronx) said yesterday.

CITGO, the Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's national oil company, owns 14,000 gas stations and eight refineries in the U.S. Because of that, Chavez has a ready-made distribution system and doesn't need any special approvals from the White House for his project.

"My constituents are facing some of the highest energy bills in recent history, even as oil companies are reporting the largest profits in recent memory," Serrano said. "I'm very pleased to have helped broker this historic agreement."

The Bronx congressman has been working feverishly for weeks to connect local nonprofit groups with CITGO and Venezuelan government officials. The South Bronx plan is similar to one announced yesterday in Boston for CITGO to supply 12 million gallons of discounted heating oil to 45,000 low-income families and nonprofits in Massachusetts.

Under the Chavez plan, CITGO will sell oil for way below the market price - about $1.35 a gallon instead of the current average of $2.25. The average Massachusetts homeowner would save about $180 for each 200-gallon shipment, enough to last about three weeks.

But the South Bronx project is a little more complicated because so many low-income residents live in rental apartments instead of individual homes.

"The Venezuelans want to make sure landlords don't pocket all the savings," Serrano said.

You can be sure, if there's a way to do so, New York City landlords will find it.

That's why Serrano recruited several local nonprofit housing corporations to be the first to join the discount-fuel program.

To assure that the bulk of savings are passed on to residents, not just to the nonprofit corporation, lawyers for CITGO are working out a pilot effort in which every renter will receive a cash voucher equal to the average fuel savings for each unit in the building.

"The idea is to make sure the financial help goes directly to the poor, not the middle man," Serrano said.

Details are still being ironed out by lawyers for all sides, Serrano said, which is why he will not announce the specific housing groups and buildings to receive the first fuel shipments until a press conference late next week.

"We'll start with a few groups, then expand it throughout the winter," Serrano said. Homeowners aren't the only ones eligible: Even schools in low-income areas could apply for the program.

In his interview with me two months ago, Chavez vowed to set aside 10% of all the oil that CITGO refineries produce for his oil-for-the-poor program.

His government is already directing hundreds of millions of dollars from its windfall petroleum profits to expand social programs for Venezuela's own poor, and it has begun providing cheap oil to more than a dozen poor Caribbean nations.

To the people at the Bush White House and their buddies at the Big Oil companies, sharing the wealth with those less fortunate is a dangerous idea.

Santa Claus is for children, they say, and profits are for shareholders, and this Chavez guy is giving oil a bad name.

Illegitimi non Carborundum.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2005 7:07 am 
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Chavez stands up against George Bush when other nations' leaders are bowing down and touching their forelocks when the slimy little bastard makes a visit to their respective countries.

Chavez's cheap oil for US poor angers Washington
By Alec Russell in Washington
November 25, 2005

Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, has pulled off his greatest public relations coup yet in his campaign to irritate the Bush Administration with a deal to supply cheap fuel to thousands of poor residents of Boston and New York.

To the anger of many in Washington, Citgo Petroleum Corporation a company controlled by the Venezuelan Government, will supply more than 45 million litres of oil at 40 per cent below market prices.

The deal is one of the most spectacular moves yet in Mr Chavez's attempt to market his "21st-century socialism" using his country's oil wealth.

While it will not change many minds in Washington about his populist and autocratic regime, Caracas hopes it will bolster Mr Chavez's claim as the coming leader of an anti-capitalist Latin America. Mr Chavez, who once dubbed President George Bush a "genocidal madman" and led a huge anti-US protest earlier this month, first proposed his fuel offer in August when oil prices were at a record high after Hurricane Katrina.

Joe Kennedy, the chairman of Citizens Energy, one of the organisations that will distribute the oil, said the deal highlighted the failure of oil companies in the US and the Government to step in to help.

"Our government has made billions of dollars just this year on the royalty payments the oil companies pay to the Government," he said. But when it is a question of poor Americans, "what do we hear from Washington? Sorry boys. There's no money in the till."

To promote his dream, Mr Chavez has offered cheap oil and refineries to his neighbours and pledged financial support for regional development programs.

All the while he has positioned himself as a rival to Washington, accusing the Bush Administration of plotting a coup against him, and predicting the imminent demise of American capitalism.

The US on Wednesday threatened to block a record-breaking arms deal under which Spain would sell ships and aircraft to Venezuela, claiming that the €1.3 billion ($2 billion) arms deal with Mr Chavez could destabilise the region.

The deal, due to be signed in Caracas on Monday, would be a huge boost to Spain's ailing shipyard industry and to the rest of its defence industry.

"Those air or naval platforms include US technology," the US ambassador to Madrid, Eduardo Aguirre, said on Wednesday. "We have not yet decided whether to grant our permission for obtaining that technology."

Link: ... 14620.html




"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac

"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman

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