Leaders from four Western Alaska villages have rejected an offer of free heating oil from a Venezuelan- owned company because that nation’s president this month called President Bush “a devil” and made other inflammatory comments about the United States.
“Despite the critical need for fuel in our region, the Unangan (Aleut) people are Americans first, and we cannot support the political agenda attached to this donation,” read a statement from Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association released late Thursday.
Under a program from Texas-based refiner Citgo, which is owned by the Venezuelan government, that is giving cheap and free heating fuel to poor people across the country, more than 12,000 rural Alaska homes in about 150 villages are scheduled to receive 100 free gallons this winter.
Valued at about $5 million, the gift to Alaska is welcome by people in many poor, remote villages. Heating fuel exceeds $7 a gallon in the remotest villages.
Last year, 50,000 spongers in Massachusetts accepted more than 4 million gallons of discounted heating oil from the Venezuelan dictator’s program devised to score a public relations victory over the United States.