Thank you, President Chavez

The following letter was sent to the Burlington Free Press:

We in New England should express gratitude to President Chavez for his
generous contribution of heating oil — some free and some discounted
— to the people during past winter heating seasons.

Here, in the northern part of our country, winter temperatures often
fall well below zero. Many citizens have suffered not only discomfort,
but also health problems related to the inadequate heating of their
homes. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has received testimony that some of
his constituents have had to chop up their furniture to use for fuel
— that was during last winter. Worse is predicted for next winter.

During the recent congressional hearings on the cost of heating oil,
testimony was given stating that people will freeze to death in New
England during the upcoming winter heating season. Testimony also was
given to explain the cause of the rapid increase in the cost of oil.
Several expert witnesses testified that a large portion — maybe 70
percent — of the increase was due to commodity futures speculators.

Some might suggest that the logical solution to the problem would be
to arrest the speculators, nationalize the oil companies, increase
auto efficiency to 50 mpg, and move toward wind, solar and tidal
energy sources. None of those efforts will be timely enough to save
the lives that will be in jeopardy this winter.

The time has come for a hero to emerge. Maybe it will again be
President Chavez. Maybe the Vermont Legislature will negotiate a bulk
price for oil from Citgo. The oil could then be distributed to Vermont
oil dealers who are also suffering. Will the Vermont legislators save
us from the policies that have led the United States to this long,
dark winter, or is that expecting too much from our leaders?

Our president has access to more money than President Chavez does.
Unfortunately, President Bush's priorities are not as humanitarian at
those of the Venezuelan president. Our president and the U.S. Congress
have gotten us entangled in a rather gruesome situation in Iraq. It
looks like we will be spending all of our money for generations to
come on weapons. That brings up another problem. Many in Vermont
cannot afford health care. Please, someone tell Castro that we need
doctors over here.

In appreciation of the generous foreign aid sent to the people of New
England from Venezuela, I have been passing the word to everyone I
know. I have been asking them to buy only Citgo gasoline. I admire the
people of Venezuela who were smart enough to vote for Chavez. Maybe
some of them would be willing to come up here and help us run an
election in November. Right now it looks like we need a lot of help.

Rosemarie Jackowski lives in Bennington.