From Socialist Voice, February 2006

Venezuela offers to assist American poor

From New York to Chicago, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company Citgo has been attempting to implement the offer made by President Hugo Chávez, after Hurricane Katrina, to provide diesel and heating oil to some of America’s poor to offset the rise in prices imposed by the oil corporations.
    In a society that is dominated by corporations and in which every aspect of human life has long since been commodified and has value only if you can make a buck on it, governments since the end of the nineteenth century have been dominated by the interests of corporate America.
    Oil has already been distributed at reduced rates in New York to some of the poorest communities in the city. This unique action of solidarity has met with widespread support, though it is anathema to the corporate elite of the United States. Over the Christmas period Citgo made a deal with three non-profit organisations to distribute 5 million gallons of heating oil in the Bronx district of New York at 45 per cent below the market price. More than eight thousand low-income families have now benefited from this solidarity action. In Boston it is estimated that poor families will benefit to the tune of $10 million with the distribution of 12 million gallons of heating oil through the Citizens’ Energy Corporation.
    Citgo has been attempting to negotiate with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the city’s Department of Energy and other city officials about passing the saving from reduced diesel costs on to the poor of the city in the form of free or reduced travel cards that offer 40–50 per cent discount for public transport.
    Despite more than two months of negotiations, no progress was made. The transit company has instead increased its fares by 25 per cent, and abolished a number of existing concessions.
    The CTA relies on the federal government for funding, thus making it susceptible to political pressure. The Bush government recently announced the allocation of $89 million in infrastructure project funds that the CTA had been seeking for years.
    This is a small but important step in pointing out that the world’s resources belong to us all and not to profit-hungry global corporations, and that our world will be a more civilised place when the cancer of capitalism has been made history.

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