Venezuelan ambassador discusses ‘offensive against poverty’

By Cheryl LaBash, New York, Published Jun 30, 2006

Excerpt: … Ambassador Alvarez explained how the home heating oil program that assisted 200,000 people in nine U.S. states last winter grew from needs exposed by the Katrina hurricane disaster. Bolivarian Venezuela organized immediate aid, including opening CITGO’s Lake Charles oil refinery for emergency shelter, funding housing for evacuees in Houston and even bringing buses from Miami to transport stranded people to safety. But Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez predicted that the skyrocketing oil prices from the hurricanes compounding the invasion of Iraq would create even more hardships in poor communities inside the United States.

“Then we started thinking that the most vulnerable, the weak sectors of society were the low-income families who use heating oil,” Alvarez said.

The crowd, many of whom are veteran fighters for affordable water, erupted in applause when Alvarez quoted President Chávez: “You know that we always talk about the North and the South. He said what is key here for me is that the South exists in the North. All these struggles we have had against neoliberalism and this idea of an inhuman form of capitalism is not only affecting us, it is affecting people in the U.S.”

In addition to the social exclusion of the African American communities exposed by Katrina, Alvarez observed personally through heating oil deliveries that in Vermont and other Northeastern states many white people are also very poor. Alvarez described the condition of one oil recipient on a fixed income whose husband is unemployed and suffering from severe diabetes: “For her it is as simple as whether she heats her house or pays for medicine. As simple as that! It is incredible” …

Read the whole article on Workers World.

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