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Open Letter to Congressmen Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield re CITGO

By Aleksander Boyd

London 22.02.06 | Dear Congressmen: about time that someone in America took the hassle to revise Hugo Chavez's oil-for-political-favours programme!! As a Venezuelan citizen, deeply concerned with the obscure way in which our oil industry has been managed by the Chavez (mis)administration, I can only praise your efforts and recommend to exercise extreme caution when dealing with CITGO officials. Furthermore, it ought to be sufficiently clear to you, and all intelligent US citizens for that matter, that the wellbeing of the poor, whether Venezuelan or American, is the least of Hugo Chavez's concerns. Rather, Fidel Castro's apprentice's perception of the disenfranchised must be that of an unending source of discontentment towards the establishment to be tapped for political gain at any given time, should necessity arise.

The letter you have sent to Felix Rodriguez on February 15th raises few valid points, namely:

(1) How and when was this Program first conceived?
(2) How and why were the particular beneficiaries of this Program selected?
(3) How is the Program being implemented?
(4) What is the status of the Program in each of the proposed communities?
(5) Does this Program run afoul of any antitrust laws?

With respect to these points I would like to take the liberty of making some suggestions. Regarding points 1, 2 and 3 you may wish to speak with the Cuban dictator's representatives at the Cuban Interest Section in DC. If you ask Jimmy Carter or Congressman Delahunt to kindly word such a request to the bearded dictator, perhaps you may find out how and when the program was conceived, what criteria was used to select beneficiaries and how the program is being rolled out.

Joe Kennedy II, of Citizens Energy Corporation, may be of tremendous help to clarify point 4. You may also wish to speak to 'reverend' Jessy Jackson and officials of the Rainbow coalition. Equally Venezuelan diplomats may be of assistance, especially Bernardo Alvarez Herrera and Martin Sanchez.

Now with point 5, I am afraid to say that you have incurred in the same mistake of most American politicians; that is, never expect a chavista representative/official -in this case Felix Rodriguez- to let the rule of law block, impede or hinder in any manner actions ordered by Hugo Chavez. They are just messenger boys, not there to check compliance with laws but to, unquestioningly, carry out Chavez's plans.

It has been reported in the press that CITGO is planning "to cooperate with the House Energy chairman's request for documents on Venezuela's program that provides heating oil to poor Americans." I may be missing something here but, does the possibility of non-cooperation exists, even remotely? Or does Felix Rodriguez think that he's dealing with Venezuela's rubber-stamp assembly?

I sincerely hope that the utterly incompetent bunch running CITGO have weighted the legal consequences of not taking your request seriously and will comply accordingly. Be assured that the committee you chair is doing in this instance a great service to both nations, especially to Venezuela where transparency in the running of affairs of public interests ceased to exist 7 years ago.

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