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Fuel shipments requested despite uneasy relations


Posted on Fri, Sep. 09, 2005
Fuel shipments requested despite uneasy relations
CHERYL WITTENAUER
Associated Press

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. - The U.S. did not officially ask Venezuela to increase fuel supplies after Hurricane Katrina, but some Bush Administration officials turned to the oil-rich neighbor for help, despite the two countries' uneasy relations, Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S. said Friday.

They "were telling us they need help," Bernardo Alvarez said Friday during a visit to Webster University in this St. Louis suburb. "We understand that."

With 12 percent of Gulf Coast refineries down, Venezuela's infusion of 1 million barrels of gasoline - in addition to its normal shipments - "will make a real and immediate impact" to ease hurricane-related energy problems, Alvarez said. The first shipment will leave Venezuela Wednesday and should arrive at the Gulf Coast in four to five days, he said.

The shipment is not a gift, but rather an additional supply to the market, he said. Roger Noriega, the State Department official responsible for Western Hemisphere affairs, said Thursday the United States was paying for it.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose close relations with Cuban President Fidel Castro puts him at odds with the United States, also authorized the release of up to $5 million in humanitarian relief. The money is being sent to the American Red Cross, at the request of U.S. officials, Alvarez said.

Chavez's aid offers also came with a criticism of the U.S. government for failing to evacuate the victims before disaster struck.

What has not been accepted is Venezuela's offer of mobile clinics; rescue, safety and evacuation specialists; power generators; and water-cleansing machines, Alvarez said.

He said Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco welcomed the relief, but the U.S. government has so far snubbed the offer. Washington has not responded to a number of offers from foreign countries. The administration has been attempting to match offers from countries with needs on the ground. Many offers have been accepted, others yielded no responses yet.

"We felt a bit disappointed," Alvarez said. "In the end, this is for the people."

Venezuela also helped in the evacuation and assistance of thousands of Katrina refugees in Lake Charles, La., where the U.S. subsidiary, CITGO Petroleum Corp., of Venezuela's national oil company, has a refinery.

Alvarez's remarks come at a time when relations between Washington and Chavez are strained, which the ambassador compared to a sort of Cold War isolation.

Last month, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested American agents should assassinate Chavez because he poses a threat to the United States.

The Bush administration swiftly distanced itself from those remarks, and Robertson has since apologized.

However, Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials have been linking Chavez with Castro as destabilizing troublemakers in fragile Latin American democracies.

U.S. officials have denied what Chavez claims are U.S. plans to invade the oil-producing country and backing plots to overthrow him.

Alvarez characterized the Robertson comments as how a "crazy person will respond to the U.S. government continually saying Venezuela is a threat to the U.S."

"We are the third-biggest trading partner with the U.S.," he said. "When I mention that to members of Congress, they say, 'are you talking about the same Venezuela that the administration is?' "

He said the heated rhetoric between both countries' leaders undermines the real debate which, in his view, is the social, economic model for Latin America.

He said the state has to step in and help its poor as Venezuela has with its oil revenue because the free-market, minimal-government model espoused by the U.S. isn't doing the job.

In addition, he said, Latin American democracies have not had participation by all classes, but rather, a "democracy by educated elites," put up by ruling parties.

ON THE NET

State Department: http://www.state.gov

CIA Factbook on Venezuela: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ve.html

LINK TO ORIGINAL

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Last month, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested American agents should assassinate Chavez because he poses a threat to the United States.

The Bush administration swiftly distanced itself from those remarks, and Robertson has since apologized.

However, Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials have been linking Chavez with Castro as destabilizing troublemakers in fragile Latin American democracies.

U.S. officials have denied what Chavez claims are U.S. plans to invade the oil-producing country and backing plots to overthrow him.

Alvarez characterized the Robertson comments as how a "crazy person will respond to the U.S. government continually saying Venezuela is a threat to the U.S."

"We are the third-biggest trading partner with the U.S.," he said. "When I mention that to members of Congress, they say, 'are you talking about the same Venezuela that the administration is?' "

*****

More people needing our form of democracy? Stolen elections, fake equality, and ooops...they don't deserve their oil anyways...give it to US. (Halliburton and Bush/Cheney crownies.)

BLOOK for OIL! NOW THAT IS A CHRISTIAN VALUE!

He's been Cuba's leader for over 40 years and he overthrew a tyrant they hated, Batista! And Communism finds it is most successful infiltrating a totalitarian govt , so the fragile Latin American "democracies" are most likely Banana Republics or American propped-up puppet regimes (oops, excuse my redundancy). Communism has no chance with TRUE DEMOCRACIES. Oh, by the way , Cheney and Rummy and Wolfy MUST admire Castro, because PNAC is copying a very old Communist trick >>> pretend you are a democratic leader (bait) then, SWITCH to Communism, but in Cheney's case, the SWITCH is to Fascism.

God bless Venezuela and Hugo Chavez.He is a champion of the poor,like Jesus.Mr Bush is a champion of the rich like the publicans of the Bible.In our time of need he offers us help,even thou our so called religious leaders have called for his head on a platter and our government has attempted a coup against him,he still offers help. God Bless Hugo Chavez for being a Chirtian unlike the leaders of the U.S.A.

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