[Marxism] Venezuela sends heating oil to South Bronx

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Nov 26 08:06:17 MST 2005

NY Times, November 26, 2005
Venezuela's Leader to Send Heating Oil to South Bronx

A group of South Bronx residents will soon receive a large - and 
inexpensive - shipment of heating oil, courtesy of President Hugo Chávez of 
Venezuela, a frequent thorn in the side of the Bush administration.

Under an agreement between President Chávez and United States 
Representative José E. Serrano, Citgo, the Houston-based American 
subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, will provide eight 
million gallons of discounted heating oil this winter to thousands of 
low-income residents of the South Bronx.

The populist government of the Venezuelan president is one of Latin 
America's most vocal critics of American-style capitalism. Mr. Chávez has 
led anti-Bush rallies in his country and has accused the United States of 
trying to kill him and invade his country.

The oil should start arriving late next week or early in the week of Dec. 
5, Mr. Serrano, a Bronx Democrat, said in an interview yesterday. He said 
that the oil would be provided at 40 percent below the market rate.

"This is something that came as a result of conversations between me and 
President Chávez," Mr. Serrano said. "As part of our talk, he suggested 
that he wanted to ask Citgo to make home heating oil available to the poor 
of the South Bronx at a lower rate."

Mr. Serrano said that the agreement provided "an incredible message to 
other oil companies."

"It tells them," he said, "that that if these people in Venezuela can share 
their profits with poorer communities, then they should, too."

Earlier this year, two nonprofit Massachusetts groups signed an agreement 
with Citgo to provide discounted heating oil this winter to thousands of 
low-income residents.

Mr. Serrano said that there were some challenges in fine-tuning the program 
in the Bronx that were not encountered in Massachusetts.

In New York, he said, most of the low-income residents rent their 
apartments as opposed to being homeowners, as in Massachusetts.

The congressman added that the priority was to administer the program in 
such a way that the savings were passed to residents.

"In New York, most of the landlords are private landlords, and we don't 
really know how to get them to pass along those savings to the renters," 
Mr. Serrano said. "We suggested to the president that we start off with 
three nonprofit affordable housing community corporations in the South Bronx."

Initially, Mr. Serrano said, the program will involve residents in about 
200 apartments. He added that the agreements with the nonprofit groups call 
for residents to receive vouchers for rent reductions and for 
"infrastructure and quality-of-life improvements" in the buildings.

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