Hugo and the Heart

by Russ Roberts on November 29, 2005

in Energy

I always thought of Hugo Chavez as something of a ruthless guy.  Turns out he’s full of ruth.  CNN reports:

Citgo Petroleum Corp., a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, will supply oil at 40 percent below market prices.

It will be distributed by two nonprofit organizations, Citizens Energy Corp. and the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance.

The
agreement gives President Hugo Chavez’s government standing as a
provider of heating assistance to poor U.S. residents at a time when
U.S. oil companies have been reluctant to do so and Congress has failed
to expand aid in response to rising oil prices.

U.S. Rep. William Delahunt of Massachusetts, a Democrat, met with Chavez in August and helped broker the deal.

He said his constituents’ needs for heating assistance trump any political points the Chavez administration can score.

"This
is a humanitarian gesture," Delahunt said, speaking after a news
conference with Venezuelan officials and others outside the home of a
constituent in Quincy who will receive heating aid.

A humanitarian gesture.  Phew.  Thought it might have something to do with politics, either Delahunt’s or Chavez’s.  Hugo is also working the pols of New York, promising to send cheap oil there, too, in a deal "negotiated" by Representative Jose Serrano.

The Boston Globe’s AP story has this wonderful (tragiwonderful) quote from one Massachusetts resident:

Linda Kelly of Quincy, Mass., said she feels grateful to Chavez for
the fuel that her family of five received this week at a 40 percent
discount.

"He’s doing the right thing," Kelly, 44, said in a
phone interview Wednesday. "The people of Venezuela are lucky to have
him. That’s what government is supposed to be about — taking care of
the little guy."

Yes, the people of Venezuela are lucky to have him.  He’s selling oil at a 40% discount to people in a country whose per-capita income is over SIX TIMES that of Venezuela’s.  That’s a man who really knows how to take care of the little guy.

(ht: Camilo Montenegro)

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

12 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

{ 6 comments }

Timothy November 29, 2005 at 4:36 pm

Isn't it illegal for states to negotiate international trade agreements? I suppose if it's not a treaty there's some wiggle room, but still. This is pathetic: bad for the citizens of Venezuela and a poor reflection on the character of US CongressCritters.

Phil November 29, 2005 at 6:36 pm

I don't see what all the fuss is about. If he wants to give away oil, then let him. Yes, his own people could probably benefit more from it, but, I am not convinced that he would give it to them if he were not allowed to give it to U.S. citizens. Don't look a gifthorse in the mouth, that is what I say.

JOSE MARRERO November 29, 2005 at 8:53 pm

HOW CAN WE BE NEGOTIATING WITH THIS COMMUNIST. HE IS GIVING AWAY HIS COUNTRY'S RESOURCES, YET THERE ARE CHILDREN BEGGING FOR FOOD ALL OVER VENEZUELA, WHICH I HAVE SEEN FIRST HAND. PEOPLE ARE LOSING THEIR JOBS SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY SIGNED A RECALL AGAINST HIM. PEOPLE WHO HAVE WORKED ALL OF THEIR LIVES SIMPLY FIRED BECAUSE THEY SIGNED AGAINST HIM. PEOPLE NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND EMPLOYMENT SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT WITH HIM. AND YOU SAY HE HAS A HEART.

John Pertz November 30, 2005 at 12:05 am

This is why freedom is impossible because people treat politics like sports and do not realize that supporting these barbaric bureaucrats is not actualy in their own self interest. One of the most appaling aspects of modern society is the amount of apologising that people, of certain political ideologies do, in order to save the ass of a bureaucrat who represents their party. Pathetic, shame on anyone that tries to rationalize the terror and barbarism that is occuring in Venezuela right now. An ethical case can be made for the immediate murder of anyone in support of Chavez's regime.

Bart S. November 30, 2005 at 2:19 am

John: the first rule of satire is that it should be distinguishable from the real thing.

Timothy: CITGO is a US registered company, so negotiating with it isn't really "international trade."

Chavez is using he wealth of his nation to create a little bit of political mischief in the US. Regardless of what you think of Chavez, this is a transfer of wealth the benefits the US at the cost of the Venezualan public. But if they don't vote him out of office next time, it will be a vindicated action, politically.

Tom December 5, 2005 at 12:35 am

The AVERAGE income in the US is irrelevant, as the oil is specifically sold to its poorest residents.

Jose: I entirely agree with you that Venezuela should not be engaging in petro-diplomacy, or selling its resources to the foreign poor when some of her own people are starving. It's just bad economics.

There are so many succulent dishes that use petroleum as a main ingredient nowadays, and the thousands of Cuban doctors that Chavez has hired for the slums were placed there specifically to cope with the odd spontaneous combustion of Venezuala's poor.

Previous post:

Next post: