Caracas, October 11, 2006 (Venezuelanalysis.com)—U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman told Reuters yesterday that he had no objections to Venezuela’s discounted heating oil program and wished more companies would follow suit. Similarly, U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, said he applauds Venezuela’s position of condemning North Korea’s nuclear weapons test.
Energy Secretary Bodman said about Venezuela’s discount heating oil program, "I can’t find my way clear to object to Venezuela being charitable." To him, it is “a charitable contribution and I wish more companies did it.”
Ever since last winter, Venezuela has been providing heating oil at up to 40% discount to poor communities in 17 states of the U.S. Last year it provided 40 million gallons of discounted heating oil and this year the program has been expanded to 100 million gallons, to benefit 1.2 million people. The program is being carried out in a cooperative effort between the Venezuelan owned Citgo Corporation and a wide variety of U.S. community groups.
Bodman had expressed his support for the deal already late last year, when he said, “We view it, as corporate philanthropy. We’re all for that. Nobody in the Energy Department, or in the government for that matter, is going oppose that. If that’s what Mr. Chavez and his colleagues who own CITGO choose to do, I’m certainly not going to criticize," Bodman told CNN last Dec. 9.
Last year, when heating oil costs were sky-rocketing, the Bush administration had sent out letters to oil companies, asking them to help ease the cost of heating oil in winter. The only company to respond to the call was Venezuela’s Citgo. Some commentators and politicians, though, are re-considering their support for the program because of President Chavez’s reference to President Bush as “the devil” during last month’s opening of the 61st UN General Assembly in New York.
Also, last June, U.S. Congressmen urged the city of Chicago to accept Citgo’s offer of discounted diesel oil for its buses, an offer that the city’s transportation authority had turned down.
U.S. Ambassador Brownfield Applauds Venezuela’s position on N. Korea
In another unlikely act of appreciation, the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, said today that he applauds the Venezuelan government’s position condemning North Korea’s atomic weapons test.
According to Brownfield, Venezuela’s position “coincides with the position of the rest of the international community in condemning this nuclear test.”
However, in a not so subtle stab at Venezuela’s support for Iran’s nuclear energy program, which the U.S. government opposes, Brownfield added, “What we saw in North Korea is the result of [working outside of international institutions] and hopefully we have learned something perhaps in the Middle East, such as in Iran, for example.”
Venezuela supports Iran’s position that its nuclear energy program is purely for peaceful purposes. Unlike North Korea, though, Iran’s program is being monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran is a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.