Remember the good old days when Venezuela gave away heating oil to the poor in the U.S. of A. like it came in CLAP boxes? Seems like that program is the latest casualty of Venezuela’s (and PDVSA’s) economic troubles.
According to a report by AP’s David Sharp, CITGO is skipping its assistance for the second year in a row to a program known as Joe-4-Oil that provides heating oil in several U.S. states at discount prices. The program is run along with the non-profit group Citizens Energy Corporation.
The Chairman of Citizen Energy (and former U.S. Congressman) Joseph P. Kennedy II told AP that he was hoping for a last minute help by CITGO, without any luck. He hinted that Venezuela’s economic woes are to blame here: “While this is not good news, it certainly isn’t surprising”. The program was also suspended in 2009, blaming “falling oil prices and the world’s economic crisis”.
The Joe-4-Oil website says that “it’s not currently accepting applications for assistance.” CITGO’s own assistance program’s website is still active, but its last news update is dated February 2014.
CITGO used the program as a good PR strategy for the late comandante eterno and its own brand. The company has since expanded its branding push to other areas, from ñangara rappers to a mural in the Bronx unveiled last September by Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez. BTW, the mural came with its own video security system to protect it from possible acts of vandalism. Looks like money well spent.
Regardless of the crunch, PDVSA has not stopped spending dough on self-promotion: During the recently finished World Baseball Classic, the State oil company was one of the two sponsors of the Venezuelan national team. Wanna know the other? El Gobierno Bolivariano.