Friday, September 22, 2006

Venezuela Helps the Philly Poor 

If you're a low-income Philadelphian, you can seek help heating your home again this winter, courtesy of President Hugo Chavez, CITGO and the people of Venezuela. If you think you may be eligible, call 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-563-4645) in November to apply.

this below from today's Daily News:


Hugo Chavez, CITGO to offer cut-rate oil
Special to the Daily News

NEW YORK - A reduced-price heating oil program that benefited 25,000 low-income households in the Philadelphia area would be expanded under a plan unveiled yesterday by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the head of CITGO, the oil company his nation controls.

"Businesses need to be concerned about the needs of poor people, not just making profits," Chavez told a crowd of several hundred people at Harlem's Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.

The audience included Dr. Cornell West, Tavis Smiley, Danny Glover, and several people from Maine and Alaska that had benefitted from the heating oil program.

"The people of the United States are our friends," he Chavez went on to say.

"We want to use the natural resources that Venezuela has been blessed with to help our brothers and sisters in the U.S., too."

His comments came a day after a fiery speech to the United Nations in which he referred to President Bush as "a devil."

The heating oil program was launched in Novemeber 2005 by CITGO, which is owned by Venezuela.

Last fall, 12 U.S. senators sent a letter to all oil companies asking that contribute 10 precent of their record profits to programs that benefit low-income people, who have seen their heating bills double in the last five years.

Only CITGO responded.

In the first year, 181,000 families were served in eight states, including Pennsylvania, and 40 million gallons of oil were sold to low-income people at a 40 percent reduction.

During the upcoming winter heating season, CITGO expects to distribute 100 million gallons of heating oil to 459,000 families in 16 states at the same discount.

Starting this November, Philadelphia-area residents who think they may be eligible for the program can call 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-563-4645) to apply.

Last year when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf region, Venezuela offered humanitarian aid, but it was declined by the Bush administration.

However, by September 2005, CITGO delivered 1.9 million barrels of diesel, jet fuel and gasoline to alleviate shortages and price increases that followed Katrina and Rita.

One Philadelphian explained why she had come to New York City to hear Chavez speak by saying, "I just wanted to hear a leader of a country speak who cares about people."


- Frank Sherlock

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