Monday, January 5, 2009

Chavez Gives Cold Shoulder on Low Income Heating Assistance

Several years ago, while calling President Bush "the devil", Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez was bragging about providing low income Americans assistance on home heating. Chavez, through Citgo, had an arrangement with Citizens Energy here in Boston (which is run by former Congressman Joe Kennedy - the eldest son of Robert F. Kennedy) to provide people who qualified with 100 gallons of free heating oil every winter.

Well, today Citgo announced it was suspending the program.

Obviously the main factor is falling oil prices.

But one cannot help but think how convenient it is that Chavez should make this move a fortnight before President Bush leaves office.

Granted it would be nice to see other oil producing countries and oil companies step up to the plate. But it is obvious to me that Chavez couldn't care a wit about low income Americans. He used them to thumb his nose at Bush. Nothing more. Nothing less. Now that Bush is leaving he doesn't have an external scapegoat. What? Chavez is going to call Obama names? Don't bet on it.

With Venezuela's economy faltering and the absence of Bush look for Chavez to focus his attention inward and for him to crack down hard on dissidents over the next four years. He is supposed to leave office in 2013 but is currently trying to get a constitutional amendment passed that would allow him to remain in office until 2021. If he loses two referendums in a row look for the fit to hit the shan.

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