Nov 22/05 - On a scheme to hoodwink America's poor: Hugo Chávez enlists a Kennedy for his anti-U.S. campaign
PMBComment: It might be fair to say that without oil Hugo Chávez would have never been elected president. By 1998, bountiful oil had made the task of governing
We can also state today that sans oil – and a desperately sought oil price run up - Hugo Chávez would have never lasted in power long enough to inflict the kind of permanent institutional damage that will almost certainly be his deplorable legacy.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise to find oil, and its main byproduct – oil money, in every nook and cranny of Mr. Chávez’s ploy to buy consciences and meddle in the internal affairs of other nations.
Just this week, we saw an on-his’s-knee Nestor Kirchner from Patagonia, Argentina pleading for more cash, and a member of the Kennedy family from Boston, Massachusetts trying to sugar coat - as energy charity - his long sought role of propaganda stooge for the Caracas government.
On the latter development, Sunday’s Boston Globe ran a front page story (read below in full) under the triumphant title “Thousands in
Citizens Energy Corporation is the non-profit company set up in 1980 by Joseph P. Kennedy II, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy. According to the Globe, CEC is expected to sign this deal with CITGO, PDVSA’s wholly owned
At the risk of appearing cold hearted, I will provide some of the very relevant elements not covered by the
First, this is not a novel idea. Citizens got going in 1980 as a result of
Second, it is important to remember that
Third, the most noticeable consequence of this strategy of constraining production has been higher prices for consumers all over the world. It is estimated that the “Chávez” premium can be anywhere between $7-10 per barrel.
Fourth, Citizens Energy owns no terminal, does not own a fleet of trucks and is not capable of qualifying low income families as eligible recipients of this “cheap oil”. The latter task is performed by Community Action Programs. In 1980, CITGO was not yet part of PDVSA, and an intermediary was appropriate (the CEC scheme was also a lot more complex involving cut rate third party refining and transportion). But given CITGO’s significant presence in the Northeast, this “assistance” could have been arranged directly with the Commonwealth and through the CAPs. So what is Citizen’s and Joe Kennedy’s role in all this? What about Bill Delahunt? I do not know for sure. To me, they are allowing themselves to be used by an uncouth tormentor of Human Rights, who is hell-bent not only on making life difficult for the U.S. Administration, but is also on record (on multiple occasions) rejecting everything the U.S. stands for. While trying to earn some political capital by “doing good” in their home turf cannot be considered a felony, doing so by becoming accessories to a self declared enemy of the
Fifth, Joe Kennedy feels that he has covered his back against the above charge by haplessly stating the following ''You start parsing which countries' politics we're going to feel comfortable with, and only buying oil from them, then there are going to be a lot of people not driving their cars and not staying warm this winter…There are a lot of countries that have much worse records than Venezuela. At the end of the day it's not our business to go choosing other peoples' leaders, particularly when they are duly-elected democratic leaders." What he seems to forget is that no other government is trying to hoodwink the
Sixth, by stating that he is only dealing with “the duly-elected democratic” leader of Venezuela, Joe Kennedy conveniently brushes aside the fact on September 11, 2001, all the democratic nations of the Hemisphere (including the U.S and Venezuela) signed a Democratic Charter that defines democracy in much more exacting terms than simply being the natural and hence acceptable outcome of “democratic elections”. While this might be a comprehensible oversight for a private sector executive, it is a huge failing for the scion of a family that prides itself on its rigorous approach to freedom, democracy and Human Rights around the world. I am convinced that a number of individuals who are risking all to highlight and reverse
Seventh, over the last few years it has been maddening to observe Representative Delahunt acting as Hugo Chávez main cheerleader/apologist in the U.S. Congress. No matter how evident Mr. Chávez’s anti-U.S. designs and rhetoric have become, Delahunt was there ready to explain, to dump dirt on the Venezuelan opposition and to take pot shots at the Bush Administration. Just last week, after a hearing on Democracy in
And finally, in a recent conversation I had with Joe Kennedy on this same subject he screamed at me that his only interest was to “help the poor folks in
Disclosure note: some of the facts in this note are well known to me because as a 22-year-old college student, I helped Joe Kennedy - at the request of his uncle Senator Kennedy, for whom I had worked in 1976 as an intern - present his case to Minister Calderon and to the folks at PDVSA, a company I never dreamed then I would work for, and much less become a Board Member of many years later. I consider Joe a friend, and I had a closer relationship with his late brother Michael, but I first and foremost consider Hugo Chávez a grave threat to my country - and beyond. I hope Joe will eventually understand this, but if he does not, there is nothing I can do.
Additional reference: letter written by Venezuelan Ambassador to Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, explaining the "humanitarian" objectives of this "cheap" oil-for-political-havoc scheme.
Delahunt, Chávez help broker deal
By Michael Levenson and Susan Milligan, Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff November 20, 2005
A subsidiary of the Venezuelan national oil company will ship 12 million gallons of discounted home-heating oil to local charities and 45,000 low-income families in
The approximately $9 million deal will bring nine million gallons of oil to families and three million gallons to institutions that serve the poor, such as homeless shelters, said officials from Citizens Energy Corp., which is signing the contract. Families would pay about $276 for a 200-gallon shipment, a savings of about $184 and enough to last about three weeks.
The contract is to be signed Tuesday by officials from Citizens Energy, based in
''We recognized that we had an opportunity," Delahunt's spokesman, Steve Schwadron, said yesterday.
Chávez showed ''an inclination to do a humanitarian distribution" of oil, and poor families in
Delahunt was not available for comment yesterday.
Schwadron said the congressman did not get involved in the details of the contract, but had raised the issue with Chávez and helped connect the nonprofits with CITGO, which is owned by PDV America Inc., an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela SA, the national oil company of Venezuela.
When the discounted oil arrives early next month, Citizens Energy -- whose chairman and president, former
MassEnergyConsumer Alliance, a nonprofit group that also offers discounted oil, will distribute or sell the remaining quarter to homeless shelters, food banks, and low-income housing groups, said Larry Chretien, the group's executive director. Recipients must apply for the help, he said.
Home heating oil prices are expected to increase by 30 percent to 50 percent this winter because of rising oil prices, Chretien said. Because funding for the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program is expected to pay for only one delivery of heating oil to eligible households, the CITGO agreement could help ease the crunch on some families, he said.
''Fuel assistance is woefully underfunded, so this is a major shot in the arm for people who otherwise wouldn't get through the winter," Chretien said. He said he hoped the deal would present ''a friendly challenge" to US oil companies -- which recently reported record quarterly profits -- to use their windfall to help poor families survive the winter.
Some foreign-policy analysts said Chávez helped broker the deal in part as a jab at President Bush. Chávez has frequently belittled the White House, saying it is not doing enough to help the poor, and he has called Bush an ''assassin" and a ''crazy man." Now, he has helped arranged for 285,000 barrels of oil to arrive in
''It is a slap in the face" to the Bush administration, said Larry Birns, executive director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a group that tracks Latin American politics and government. ''Chávez is involved in petro-diplomacy."
Chávez has drawn criticism from human rights groups for his treatment of political foes and curbs on media freedoms. But he has also become a hero to some on the left who say he has helped improve conditions for the poor in his country and drawn attention to
On Friday, a US State Department spokesman declined to comment on the oil deal with Chávez.
Schwadron said Delahunt's involvement had nothing to do with
''We did not negotiate foreign policy here," Schwadron said. ''We steered clear of that."
Kennedy said he was not concerned about Chávez's politics.
''You start parsing which countries' politics we're going to feel comfortable with, and only buying oil from them, then there are going to be a lot of people not driving their cars and not staying warm this winter," Kennedy said. ''There are a lot of countries that have much worse records than
Kennedy said Delahunt has been working with Chávez ''for years now and has gone down there many times and developed a personal relationship with him."
Chávez has used his influence in the global market before.
In August, he offered discounted home-heating oil to poor communities in the
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company