Chavez Donates Oil to America’s Poor

My Father watches Fox News, so I’m pretty clear on the miserable slant to their reporting. I have to say, however, that I was a bit surprised to find that despite his hours in front of the Republican Propaganda channel, he had never heard anything about Hugo Chavez offering to donate oil to America’s poor in Boston and New York. I guess that just goes to show how Rupert Murdoch’s politics corrupt the reporting on this “news” channel.

My father didn’t even believe me when I mentioned it to him. Well, here is a section from an interview with Chavez where he speaks about his offer to the US. Is it just me, or is it a little strange that the richest, most powerful country in the world is somehow unable to help its own people pay for heat, but the leader of a small nation like Venezuela can? Apparently New York is happily accepting the offer.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Mr. President, welcome. Bien venido a los Estados Unidos. Your democratic revolution has a different aspect to it, in that your rich in oil, and the world badly needs oil. What do you do in Latin America to use oil as a weapon to assist the poor. Can you tell us a little more about what you are offering to the communities of the United States who are also suffering from high oil prices.

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: This is the result of our awareness, that only through integration we can advance and we can progress among Latin American countries, breaking the paradigm of capitalism, of free trade, and neo-liberalism. In the year 2000, we started a cooperation program especially with the Caribbean and Central American countries, and some of the South American countries, with the Caracas Energy Accord, and there for the first time in history we included Cuba, because Cuba is considered like a country that is not part the Americas, and we think it is part of the Americas; Jamaica, nicaragua, grenada, many countries.

This mechanism includes the sale of oil and oil by-products with a discount of up to 25 percent. This discount becomes in the end a donation we give these countries, however, when the price of oil, starts increases, in the year 2000 we signed the Caracas Accord and the price at that time was 20, 25 dollars a barrel. When we realized that the prices started to increase and it goes beyond 40 and beyond 50, and I doubt very much the price is going to drop any time soon because this is part of the structural crisis, the world has to face it, it is a reality. There is a drop in the oil reserves, there is an increase in consumption and demand. The refining capacity is low.

The consumerism of the world is unbearable. The world of the U.S. people must come to understand, how this country with 5 percent of the world population only, consumes 25 percent of the oil and the energy of the world. I mean that type of consumption is totally unbearable and this planet cannot stand it any more. When we realized that the price of oil went up beyond 50 dollars, we initiated another cooperation scheme. We have created, therefore, Petrocaribe and we are going to start with small Caribbean and Caricom countries, and the larger Antillas such as Cuba, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic.

So we’re now providing, first we’re ensuring the supply of oil, direct supply of oil from state to state, in order to avoid the speculation of multinationals and traders. They buy gasoline in Venezuela and then they go to a Caribbean country, and they charge double so we are selling the products to the states directly. We are not charging for freight, we assume the cost of freight. But apart from that, this discount is not of 25 percent it goes to 40 percent of the total, and this money will be paid back in 25 years time, with 2 years of grace and 1 percent interest rates. So if you make all of the mathematical calculations, the donation percentage is almost 70 percent because it’s a long term adjusted 1 percent. So what Venezuela’s doing is supplying 200,000 barrels of oil to the Caribbean and other Central American and South American countries such as Paraguay, Uruguay and smaller nations in South America. 200, 000 millions of barrels, if you apply calculations, mathematical calculations by 1.5 percent of our GDP, 1.5 percent of the GDP is devoted to this cooperation. It means we are financing these sister nations that next year will reach 1.7 billion dollars a year, in 10 years is 17 billion dollars. It’s a way for us to share, to share our resources with these countries.

And what about the us population? Well after many meetings with the U.S. citizens, we decided to propose a scheme for poor populations and low-income populations in the us. We’ve seen that poverty in the us is growing everywhere. It’s close to 11 percent poverty according to some estimates and instead of the figures you have to go deeper into it because if you see Katrina, and you saw what’s happened, 100,000 people were abandoned and they are abandoned, and they’re just surviving.

So here we have CITGO, this oil company. We have the CITGO company here in the United States. This is a Venezuelan company, so let’s have a look at the U.S. map the distribution area of CITGO in the U.S. We are present in 14,000 gas stations in the U.S., and here we have a different refineries, asphalt refineries, eight refineries that we have in the U.S., the plants for filling units, the third, refineries, terminals, and so on.

We want to use these infrastructures to help the poor populations. We have made some progress. We have given instructions to the president of CITGO, Felix Rodriguez. We want that up to 10 percent we refine here. We supply every day to the us 1.5 million barrels of oil, crude and product and we refine, here, close to 800,000 barrels a day refined here in the us. So we would like to take 10 percent of what we refine those products and to offer these products in several modalities to the poor populations. And the pilot project will be starting in Chicago we are already operating in Chicago. Well let’s hope that there’s not going to be any obstacle by the government opposed to this project being implemented, but we will be working in those poor populations. We have some allies, local partners and we have a number of communities, and we are going to donate some heating oil, because the winter is close, and for the school transportation to school, for the Mexican neighborhood which is the largest in Chicago, La Villita, is the name of this neighborhood with close to 900,000 inhabitants, and so there are other neighborhoods with Hispanics and Latinos. October, the 14th we’re going to start with these pilot projects with small communities and schools, but there are other pilot projects that will start in November in Boston, and here in New York.

So different modalities, with local authorities, mayors, organized communities, religious groups. So we are very pleased to announce this. And to help just with a drop, and a grain of contribution to help these low-income populations, Blacks or Hispanics or also White population so we’re just starting with this project.

Will Pat Robertson Be Extradited?

Christian radical Pat Robertson provoked outrage last week when he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The Bush administration, who seems to have close ties with Robertson has since been trying to distance itself from the TV evangelist by playing down the statement but has thus far, failed to renounce it publicly.

This lack of action by the US Federal government has prompted calls from Mr. Chávez for the extradition of Robertson to Venezuela, where he would be tried as a terrorist. The Rev. Jesse Jackson offered support for the for Venezuelan President on Sunday, saying a recent call for his assassination was a criminal act.

Chávez said:

His government would take legal action against Pat Robertson, stressing that “to call for the assassination of a head of state is an act of terrorism.”

Robertson is known for throwing out corrosive, Christian fundamentalist propoganda. For instance, in 2003, he earned the disdain of the State Department after suggesting:

“Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off … to shake things up” in US diplomacy.

In 2001, as America reeled from the September 11 attacks, Robertson got into trouble after agreeing with comments by Christian right sidekick Jerry Falwell that

“America’s tolerance for lesbians, gays and abortionists had drawn God’s wrath.”

Earlier this year, he angrily commented on the ABC News “This Week” show.:

“I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings”

Personally, I believe that he should be extradited. This is clearly a person that is out of control, and so blinded by the irrationalities of the religious right that he is beyond the sway of reasoned argument.

I’m also excited to see how Bush dances around this fire. Given his clear ties with Robertson, I have no doubt that he will be reluctant to act, however, should Chávez Formally seek extradition, Bush’s hand will be forced, and he will have to either defend Robertson or renounce him. Given Bush’s past allegiance to the Bin Laden family despite Osama’s acts of terrorism against the US, I have every reason to believe Bush will go to the end of the Earth to defend Robertson.

Thanks to Jon Emmons for pointing this story out to me >