Caracas, Venezuela, September 22, 2006—Venezuela’s President Chavez, during an event at the mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, yesterday announced that Venezuela would more than double its heating oil program to poor communities in the U.S. this winter. The program, which was launched last year, would increase from 40 million gallons of heating oil to 100 million gallons.
Chavez also renewed his criticisms of U.S. President Bush, saying that Bush’s policies in Iraq are criminal and that he neglects the poor in the U.S. Chavez also continued his personal attacks on Bush, saying that Bush is an admitted former alcoholic, who “walks like John Wayne,” and who is “sick, inhibited, but very dangerous because he has much power.”
Chavez emphasized, though, that he is a friend of the people of the United States and wished that, "One day, the people of the United States will choose a president with whom we can talk," he said. "You don’t know how much I would like to have as a friend the president of the United States."
The event in Harlem was attended by representatives from the beneficiary groups, such as a native American tribe from Alaska and by well-known U.S. progressives, such as Danny Glover, the actor and TransAfrica Forum president and by Princeton Professor Cornel West.
The renewed heating oil program will benefit 1.2 million U.S. Americans in 17 states. Many new cities and states have been added this winter, including Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, and Maryland. Last year the program primarily benefited the U.S. Northeast. The deal is being implemented in a partnership between Venezuela’s Citgo Corp. and the Massachusetts-based Citizens Energy Corp., which is run by Joseph P. Kennedy II.
During his speech at the Harlem church Chavez repeated his reference to a book by Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival, emphasizing how important it is for human survival to overcome U.S. domination. Chavez had already referred to the book during his UN speech on Wednesday, which caused the book that was published in 2003 to shoot up the Amazon.com bestseller list over night.
Chavez also repeated his reference to Bush as the “devil,” which elicited applause and laughter among the gathered dignitaries. Chomsky was asked by the New York Times what he thought of Chavez calling Bush the “Devil” at the UN and responded that Chavez’s anger was understandable. According to the Times, Chomsky said, “The Bush administration backed a coup to overthrow his government” “Suppose Venezuela supported a military coup that overthrew the government of the United States? Would we think it was a joke?”
Yesterday Reverend Jesse Jackson, met with Chavez and urged that both Chavez and Bush tone down the name calling. According to the AP Jackson said, "Of course he feels that the U.S. government is part of trying to pull a coup on him… But my appeal to him is get beyond the anger.” "I think that he should not be calling President Bush ‘devil.’ President Bush should not be calling him ‘evil’ or calling him ‘tyrant," Jackson said. "We must cease these hostilities."