Venezuela Aid to US Poor is Political
Venezuela’s cut-rate oil sales to the poor of eight US states is right on the money; and its exactly the type of politics that the world needs more of.
This week Connecticut was added to the list that already includes Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont.
US politicians who want the marketplace to resolve society’s social inequalities are upset that Citgo, a refiner and gasoline retailer owned by Venezuela, is distributing 44.5 million gallons of discounted heating oil and donating hundreds of thousands to homeless shelters.
Some 15,000 low-income Connecticut residents will initially benefit from the program, the state’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal told Reuters.
The fact that a Third World country can choose to benefit America’s poor with cheaper oil is testimony to the failure of President Bush and Congress to provide an energy safety net for the needy during an exceptionally cold winter.
In the last couple years, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has begun programs to help his Caribbean neighbors weather the spiraling oil prices and turn the savings into social programs. He has also reached deals with important South American countries for joint investments in gas and oil production and distribution with a mindset on mutually beneficial development.
Back at home, Chavez has initiated unprecedented educational, healthcare and cultural programs for the majority population that was virtually void of State assistance under previous governments. His rising popularity is in part due to those efforts.
The idea of turning oil profits into social spending and helping out sister nations and even the US poor, is highly frowned upon by the Bush administration, which criticizes each and every move made by Chavez.
Reuters reported that the assistance to the US poor, which the Venezuelan embassy in Washington sees as humanitarian aid, “deepens an ongoing spat, between President Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush.”
The administration and its allies on Capitol Hill express “concern” over the embarrassment of having President Chavez come to the aid of the shivering in the northeastern states. Texas Rep. Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, calls Venezuela’s aiding America’s underprivileged “increasingly belligerent.”
If their concern is real, then why don’t they allocate less than one percent of the hundreds of billions going to fund the Iraq war and nearly half-trillion dollars in “defense” spending and take away the need for Chavez’ assistance. They would find that there is more than enough to bring in all US citizens from the cold.
Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Whiltfield (R-Ken) told Reuters that he wants to find out whether the Venezuelan aid program is “part of a larger political agenda.”
You bet it is, and others should jump on the bandwagon.