•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

Venezuela offers oil for the people—of Jamaica and the U.S.

Published Sep 3, 2005 8:12 PM

While the Bush administration and friends continue their unrelenting campaign of lies, slander and hostility against Bolivarian Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez is working incessantly to find ways of using Venezuela’s oil and energy wealth to bring hope and relief to millions of people throughout the Americas region, including the poor in the United States.

After the U.S.-backed oil sabotage during the winter of 2002-2003, Venezuela’s oil production has greatly improved. This is because of the dedicated work of hundreds of Venezuelans identified with the Bolivarian process, among them oil and other industry workers, people in the community, pro-revolution members of the military and a loyal administration.

Soon after the sabotage recovery, the Revolution began to use the profits of PDVSA, the national oil industry, to finance special essential projects of education, health care, job and housing development called “Misiones” (Missions). These are aimed at elevating the people’s standard of living, particularly the 80 percent of the population that has lived in poverty under the previous administrations, which were close allies of the United States.

The oil is now benefiting people not only within Venezuelan borders, but beyond. Under President Chávez’ proposal of ALBA - the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a program of integration for Latin America and the Caribbean that emphasizes social aspects and economic cooperation while stressing solidarity - Venezuela’s energy resources form the basis for this great initiative.

When leaders of Caribbean states met at the end of June in Venezuela in the First Energy Gathering of Caribbean Chiefs of State to ratify PetroCaribe, it signaled a profound change in trade relations in the region. PetroCaribe is an Energy Cooper ation agreement that will help poor Caribbean countries overcome their terrible energy crises, a by-product of the high oil prices in the world market.

Despite a threatening letter from Pre sident George W. Bush to the participants, 13 leaders signed the agreement with Venezuela.

In late August in Montego Bay, Jamai can President James Patterson signed an agreement with the Venezuelan President Chávez, making Jamaica the first English- speaking country to sign on to the ALBA-PetroCaribe initiative. Under this accord, Venezuela will supply oil to Jamaica at a below-market price of $40 a barrel. Besides paying low interest and through long-term loans, Jamaica can pay Vene zuela with goods and services.

Other agreements were also signed. Among them is one that will allow Vene zuela to upgrade the capacity of production of a refinery from 30,000 barrels a day to 50,000.

The two countries deepened their partnership not only in terms of energy. Follow ing the precepts of cooperation and solidarity of ALBA, Venezuela will set up a fund of $60 million for socioeconomic projects on the island. Venezuela and Jamaica also initiated talks on cooperation in other areas like medicine, education, tourism, disasters response, science and technology.

Other parallel initiatives under ALBA are PetroSur and PetroAndina, both in South America. However, one such new initiative heads north to the United States.

During the weekly Aló Presidente TV and Radio program, President Chávez announced that Venezuela would like to provide discounted heating oil and free eye operations to people in poor communities in the United States. He said that Venezuela supplies the United States with 1.5 million barrels of oil per day and that “we would like to provide a part of this 1.5 million barrels of oil to poor communities.

“There is a lot of poverty in the U.S.,” Chavez said, “and I don’t believe that everything reflects the American Way of Life. Many people die of cold in the winter. Many die of heat in the summer, many are unemployed and die of starvation.” He added, “We could have an impact on 7 million to 8 million persons.”

President Chávez told the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was visiting Venezuela for three days during the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, that he would like Jack son’s organization to help identify communities in the United States. Plans include the distributing oil to poor households through Venezuelan PDVSA’s CITGO stations in the United States.

According to the Venezuelan Boli varian News Agency, President Chávez said that the Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuelan am bassador to the Untied States, has reported that the embassy has already received 140 oil requests. Chávez was quoted as saying that “the intermediaries, the transnational companies, are exploiting them; we are not going to lose a cent, we are only helping by supplying directly to those most in need.”

President Chávez also included poor people in the United States in the “Miracle Mission.” This is a health-care program run jointly by Cuba and Venezuela to provide free eye surgery to those in need. The operations will be performed in Cuba, and Venezuela will provide the transportation.

Chávez stated that 150,000 people from the United States could benefit from this program each year, and that those interested should contact the Venezuelan Embassy.