The White House and President George W Bush had no comment on the move by President Chavez, which was originally brokered in August 2005.
Citgo Petroleum Corp., a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, will supply oil at 40 percent below market prices.
Joseph P. Kennedy II, of the infamous Kennedy family, is chairman of the Citizens Energy Corp in Massachusetts. Kennedy helped to broker the Venezuelan deal along with Representative William Delahunt (D-MA) after the two met personally with Chavez in Cuba.
The poor in the northeastern United States qualify for up to 12 million gallons of heating oil from December 2005 through March 2006.
"This is a humanitarian gesture," Delahunt said at the inauguration of the deal in Quincy, MA. The Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance will also benefit from the deal. Both not for profits have begun screening processes to make oil deliveries in early December.
President Chavez said his country's gesture was to bypass the White House and directly aid the poor, which have been neglected by President George W Bush, Chavez said. President Chavez's "gesture came at the right time," said Dan, one Quincy, MA, resident who requested his last name be withheld so that he could speak openly. Dan and his wife, who both work full-time, consider themselves working poor. "We are the new American dream," Dan said.
Dan, his wife and 10-year-old son, could only afford 38 gallons of oil in September, which the family planned to ration for only the worst winter weather. He said, "I don't know what we were going to do when it ran out." The family of three is behind one month on rent and survive mostly on rice, pasta and canned goods. The couple's combined take-home income earnings are $14,250 a year, and their rent is almost $10,000. They do not own an automobile.
On 12 December, Dan's family --along with 45,000 others in Boston-- could receive enough oil to last the winter, "If we can get all the paper work done in time," said Dan's wife. The application process with Citizens Energy Corporation is lengthy she said and requires verification of low-income status, which the couple can prove.
"We've lived without heat during this recent cold snap to see how low it [the temperature] could go inside without us dying." Dan said the indoor temperature at the moment was 43 degrees Fahrenheit, while outside it was 27 degrees.
Dan's wife was planning to take a half-day off from work to apply in person at Citizens Energy Corp. She said, "We were going to only use heat in the worst of winter weather or keep the indoor temperature above freezing at least, if we qualify maybe we can get 50 gallons and that should help us this winter." According to Citizens Energy Corp., the couple could qualify for 200 gallons, however Dan said they don't have the cash to buy that much oil.
"There will be no Christmas for our son, but he is used to that now. We'll try to get enough to buy this oil at least," Dan said.
Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of Venezuela state oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela delivered discounted heating oil offered by President Hugo Chavez. Some $10 million worth of cut-price oil (1.2 million gallons) was delivered to the Boston, MA, area. Rhode Island and New York are next on the list.
"Citgo has proved to signal the importance of Venezuela-United States common benefits in energy," said Felix Rodriguez, the subsidiary president.
"Like in Venezuela, there are also poor in the United States and this monetary effort is not the only one to be made; it is a support to these people," he said. The next city to benefit from cut-rate oil prices is New York's Bronx neighborhood, where residents are less shy about speaking on the issue.
"Its cool," said Devon Brown of South Bronx about Chavez's oil program to the poor in the United States. "Bush is an evil man to begin with so never expected him to do this. What he [Chavez] did was very kind, and I don't see kindness in our own government anymore."
Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY) helped to broker the deal between President Chavez and the Bronx for 8 million gallons of cut-priced heating oil. Serrano questioned why oil companies in the United States hadn't thought of the gesture first. "One of the things we are hoping to do is that this semi-foreign corporation in a way sets a tone for American corporations who are making more money than ever to realize they can share." During the third quarter of 2005, all oil companies in the United States reported record profits.
Poor neighborhoods in Boston often include single family dwellings, but in the Bronx, poor residents live in apartments. Those buildings labeled non-profits, will be first to get the discounted heating oil, which can then help to reduce building expenses and benefit all residents.
The White House had no comment on the deal, and President George W Bush was preparing for his Thanksgiving holidays, which are set to last two weeks at his ranch in Crawford, TX.
After a hurricane devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States in August, President Chavez offered food and oil assistance as well, but the White House refused assistance from Venezuela and said any cargo sent to the Gulf would be returned to sender.
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