Chavez offers poor US residents cheap heating oil
Venezuela will offer heating fuel to United States poor residents at a 40% discount off the going market rate as well as 150,000 eye surgeries, announced President Hugo Chavez on Sunday
"In the United States, there are also many poor people and every year an important number (of them) freeze to death. Therefore, we're going to offer them heating fuel up to 40% cheaper" said the controversial leader during his weekly Sunday radio and television program "Alo Presidente!".
The price discount is possible, Chavez argued, because the middlemen will be eliminated and sales will be done directly through Citgo, the U.S. affiliate for state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA or PDVSA.
The fuel will be delivered to the poor by organizations like the one led by U.S. civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, actor Danny Glover and other personalities who work in the United States in favour of social justice.
The Rev. Jackson dropped in on the program briefly and agreed to meet next week with Chavez and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez, who was also present on the show, to work out the details of the fuel distribution project. Chavez said that the plan to guarantee sufficient heating fuel in the winter will benefit some seven to eight million poor residents in United States.
The Venezuelan leader also announced that 150,000 eye operations will be reserved for Americans who cannot afford them in their own country.
The 150,000 interventions are part of the six million ophthalmologic operations planned over the next ten under Operation Miracle, a joint program agreed between Venezuela and Cuba.
President Chavez said that he would also offer Brazil 100,000 such operations per year, 60,000 to Colombia, 30,000 to Ecuador, 20,000 to Bolivia, 20,000 to Caribbean countries and 12,000 to Panama.
The Venezuelan leader said that the number of operations to allocate to other Latin American nations with high levels of poverty was currently under consideration. Patients who will benefit from the program will be operated in Cuba or Venezuela, free of transport charge.