Request for Donations Answered by Chavez, U.S. Media Attacks Him In Return
Those bitching about the deal to sell Venezuelan heating oil at discount prices to low-income communities in the United States should look at the facts:
"The deal developed after a group of US senators sent a letter to nine major oil companies asking them to donate a portion of their recent record profits to help poor residents cover heating bills. The only response came from CITGO."
"In the United States, commentary on the deal is grudging at best, saying that Chavez, who has accused the Bush administration of trying to overthrow his government, is motivated by political ends — unlike, for example, the purely humanitarian programmes of the US Agency for International Development."
"Cuba-Venezuela relations are becoming very close. They practice a barter system, each relying on its strengths. Venezuela is providing low-cost oil while in return Cuba organises literacy and health programmes, and sends thousands of teachers and doctors, who, as elsewhere, work in the poorest areas, previously neglected.
Joint Cuba-Venezuela projects are also having a considerable impact in the Caribbean countries, where, under a programme called Operation Miracle, Cuban doctors are providing health care to people who had no hope of receiving it, with Venezuelan funding.
Chavez has repeatedly won monitored elections and referenda despite overwhelming and bitter media hostility. Support for the elected government has soared during the Chavez years. The veteran Latin American correspondent Hugh O’ Shaughnessy explains why in a report for Irish Times:
"In Venezuela, where an oil economy has over the decades produced a sparkling elite of superrich, a quarter of under-15s go hungry, for instance, and 60 per cent of people over 59 have no income at all. Less than a fifth of the population enjoys social security. Only now under President Chavez ... has medicine started to become something of a reality for the poverty-stricken majority in the rich but deeply divided — virtually nonfunctioning — society. Since he won power in democratic elections and began to transform the health and welfare sector which catered so badly to the mass of the population progress has been slow. But it has been perceptible ..." - "A dangerous neighbourhood"