Venezuela Offers $1M, Oil, Food and Equipment for U.S. Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Venezuela, through CITGO, is donating $1 million towards Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Venezuela also offers additianal crude oil, water, electricity generators, and rescue teams. The U.S. however, said the unsolicited offers can be "counterproductive"

Sept 1, 2005 ( CITGO Petroleum Corporation has pledged a $1 million donation towards Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the company’s President and CEO Félix Rodríguez announced yesterday through a press release.

Rodríguez said this donation had the full support of the company’s parent organization, the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), as well as Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy and CITGO stands prepared to offer its assistance,” Rodríguez said.

According to the CEO, the funds will be directed to appropriate relief organizations in the affected areas.

CEO Rodríguez traveled yesterday to Lake Charles, Louisiana where he met with local officials and visited the city’s Civic Center, which has been turned into a full-service shelter for storm refugees.

Rodríguez presented the local chapter of the American Red Cross, in charge of operations at the shelter, with a separate $25,000 donation to assist the organization in its efforts at the center.

2,200 victims are currently housed at the Civic Center, and more victims are expected to arrive.

A group of volunteers from the nearby CITGO Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex, known as Team CITGO, are helping in the relief efforts.

Rodríguez met with local and state officials, including Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach, Louisiana Senators Willie Mount and Jerry Theunissen, and State Reps. Ronnie Johns, Chuck Kleckley, Elcie Guillory and Dan Morrish.

Rodríguez stressed that CITGO stands prepared to offer additional assistance.

He also presented officials with a letter from Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramírez indicating that Venezuela is prepared to offer additional assistance in the form of fuel supplies to help offset shortages.

Ramirez, who also serves as president of the Venezuelan national oil company, PDVSA, stressed that the offer of support for storm victims comes from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

President Chávez announced yesterday that Venezuela will send oil and humanitarian aid to the U.S. to help alleviate the effects of the hurricane, which he described as "a catastrophe."

Sources at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC, told that apart from the million dollars in monetary assistance, Venezuela is offering two mobile hospital units, each capable of assisting 150 people, 120 specialists in rescue operations, 10 water purifying plants, 18 electricity generators of 850 KW each, 20 tons of bottled water, and 50 tons of canned food.

According to the Embassy, Venezuela’s Consulate in New Orleans will remain closed until further notice.

More Venezuelan aid for victims

Yesterday, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing solidarity with the people and government of the United States. "The Venezuelan government and nation express to the United States and its leaders their dismay regarding the magnitude and consequences of Hurricane Katrina," read the statement.

"As a way of expressing its solidarity and sentiments of compassion towards the families of the victims that are facing the loss of their material goods, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates the offer made by President Hugo Chavez, of sending fuel and humanitarian aid to the United States…" the statement continued.

U.S. Says unsolicited offers can be "counterproductive"

According to The Washington Times, a senior State Department official said he was not aware of the Venezuelan offer, but noted that unsolicited offers can be "counterproductive."

The U.S. State Department, however, welcomed the willingness of foreign nations to help.

Venezuela’s offer comes amid renewed tensions between the United States and the left-wing government of President Hugo Chavez. Washington continuously accuses democratically-elected Chavez of being a threat to stability in Latin America, while Chavez accuses the Bush Administration of wanting to destabilize or overthrow his government.