Venezuela said on Friday it will expand a program to provide cheap home heating oil to poor US citizens, bringing savings to low-income families in Vermont and Rhode Island, as well as four Indian tribes in Maine.
Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum Corp. has already begun selling millions of liters of discounted fuel in Massachusetts and the Bronx in New York City as part of a plan by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to aid poor communities that he says are neglected by Washington.
Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador to the US, said he will sign an agreement on Thursday in Maine to start providing heating oil to four Indian tribes -- the Penobscot, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians.
"The Penobscot Nation is very grateful," tribal chief James Sappier said by phone from the reservation near Bangor, Maine. "This is probably one of the greatest decisions for our tribe in years."
Many in the tribe of 2,261 people are facing tough times economically as jobs have moved out of the area, and the discounted fuel could save a family US$1,000 or more this winter, he said.
Sappier said heating oil prices have been hovering around US$2.40 in the area recently, and Venezuela estimates participants in will save US$0.15-US$0.20 cents per liter.
Alvarez said Venezuela also will extend the deal next week to Vermont and Rhode Island. Other communities in New York City -- Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn -- will soon begin benefiting, he said.
Chavez's opponents accuse him of using Venezuela's oil wealth to win friends while trying to embarrass US President George W. Bush, whom he calls a "madman." But Chavez's supporters defend the heating oil program an example of generosity by a president leading a socialist revolution for the poor.
Alvarez was accompanied by a group of US activists on a tour of a state-funded cooperative in Caracas where the poor receive free health care and hundreds work in textile and shoemaking shops.
The visitors included singer Harry Belafonte, actor Danny Glover, Princeton University scholar Cornel West and farm worker advocate Dolores Huerta.
"It was impressive for everyone to see that progress is being made," said Tavis Smiley, who joined the group and hosts a talk show on PBS television.
Belafonte, who has praised the heating oil program, said the group came to learn about the situation in Venezuela. He was sharply critical of the situation in the US, noting poverty and a huge prison population.
West, a professor of religion, spoke admiringly of Chavez's programs, saying they show "this revolution is real; it's not something that people are just talking about."
Meanwhile, Sappier said snow was falling in Maine, and his tribe was grateful for Chavez's help.
A long line of people on Sunday snaked across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travelers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination booth. Sweating under the afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card. People had come from all over Latin America — Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela — where the vaccine rollout has been slow and hampered by supply shortages. “In my country, [COVID-19] is getting out of hand and there’s
‘COVERT’ ACTIVITY: The High Court ruled against a Chinese-born Australian former adviser to a state lawmaker, who allegedly advanced ‘policy goals of a foreign principal’ A Chinese-born Australian political adviser yesterday lost his challenge in Australia’s highest court against laws banning covert foreign interference in domestic politics. John Zhang (張智森) also lost his Australian High Court challenge in a unanimous decision of seven judges to the validity of search warrants executed by police at his Sydney home and offices last year as part of an investigation into illegal foreign interference on behalf of China. Zhang was an adviser to New South Wales Lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane, whose membership in the opposition Labor Party was suspended after he was also the target of police raids. The raids in June last
A man was left stranded on a glass-bottomed suspension bridge in northeastern China after sudden gale-force winds shattered the transparent panels around him. The man was on the 100m-high bridge at Piyan Mountain in Longjing city, when it was hit by sudden strong weather, the local tourism department said. TRAPPED Gusts of up to 150kph blew out several glass panels, trapping the tourist until he could be rescued by firefighters, police, and forestry and tourism personnel more than half an hour later. Photographs shared on social media showed the man clinging to the side of the bridge, surrounded by gaping holes where the
Scores of dead bodies have been found floating down the Ganges River in eastern India as the country battles a ferocious surge in COVID-19 infections. Authorities on Tuesday said that they have not yet determined the cause of death. Health officials working through Monday night retrieved 71 bodies, officials in Bihar state said. Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river prompted outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities performed post mortems on Tuesday, but said that they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposition of the bodies. More corpses were found floating in