Late in 1998, the price of a barrel of oil fell under 7 US$, but we never heard anyone volunteering to help out Venezuela’s poor. In December 1999, Venezuela suffered some horrendous mudslides, but, when the US sent some well-equipped engineer corps to help out, Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, refused them. Massachusetts has a yearly per capita income of US$ 41,801, while Venezuela has slightly less than a tenth of that, US$ 4.020
The ad in which Citgo, the oil company in the United States owned by PDVSA, the Venezuelan state owned oil company, announces the program shows a picture of a large, two-story, typical Massachusetts detached house, with a small garden and a big tree in front, beautifully decorated with what looks like Christmas ornaments, and a completely lit up porch. Please compare that house with our shanty towns in Venezuela. Of course it is a wrongly chosen photo, and your Massachusetts poor do live in bad conditions, but, in fact, that they were not even able to choose the right picture just adds salt to our national injury.
The same ad, spelling out the partnership between PDVSA and the government of Hugo Chávez, ends with the statement: “The fuel assistance program isn’t about politics. It’s about offering humanitarian aid to those who need it. What could be more American than that?” The radical leftist Noam Chomsky recently described this as “one of the more ironic gestures ever in the North-South dialogue,” but I, as a Venezuelan, can only classify it as a gesture of utmost cynical insolence.
Many Venezuelans are upset with Chávez giving away money all over the world, while our own country has so many very much poorer people but, currently at least, there is very little we can do about it and much less so after the elections for congress held on December 4, 2005. Although everyone knows that Venezuela is a country where opinions are highly divided, the result was that 167 representatives who favor the government of Hugo Chávez were elected, and none, zero, zilch, of who differ with him. There are many explanations for these results, but, at the end of the day, they are all irrelevant since a 167-to-0 ratio is plainly not acceptable. Just as Democrats would not stand for a United States Congress made up 100% of Republicans, and just as Republicans would not stand for a Congress made up of 100% Democrats, this principle is just as true in Venezuela.
In these circumstances, I wonder, would it be too much to ask for some dignity in Massachusetts? Do you really take any gifts from anyone? Where is the limit?