Saturday, December 22, 2007

Venezuela warms up the South Bronx

Published Dec 20, 2007

For the third winter in a row, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is providing heating oil to poor people in the United States. At a Dec. 14 news conference held in a South Bronx oil terminal, Venezuelan ambassador Bernardo Alvarez announced plans to help 250,000 families in more than 20 states this season.

“This is a gift coming from the heart of the Venezuelan people,” said CITGO President Alejandro Granados. CITGO, which is owned by the Venezuelan government, is donating 45 million gallons of heating oil.

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy gladly accepted the oil on behalf of his nonprofit group. He pointed out that only 16 percent of families eligible for federal heating oil assistance get it.

Kennedy, whose father Robert was assassinated in 1968, said that he wrote to every oil company for help. Only CITGO responded. Among those that refused was ExxonMobil, which made a $39.5 billion profit last year.

Dozens of people attended this news conference. They included community organizers Vicente “Panama” Alba and Nellie Hester Bailey, director of the Harlem Tenants Council.

For information on this program, which provides a one-time delivery of 100 gallons of heating oil, call 1-877-JOE-4-OIL.

—Report and photo by Stephen Millies

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