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Citgo Brings Discounted Heating Oil to Region

At 10 a.m. today, Minnie Davis, a 65-year-old widow who lives with three of her grandchildren on North Capitol Street, is scheduled to get some unusual visitors -- the Venezuelan ambassador, the chief executive of Citgo Petroleum and former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.

The occasion: The arrival of a Venezuelan-backed program to bring 7.5 million gallons of deeply discounted heating oil to as many as 37,000 low-income households in Maryland, Virginia and the District and free heating oil to some homeless shelters.

The program has the blessings of Venezuela's populist President Hugo Chavez, who has used it to demonstrate that he cares about the poor in the United States as well as Venezuela -- while tweaking President Bush, who he called "evil" in a September speech at the United Nations.

Many people have dismissed the assistance as a publicity stunt, but for some, it will have a real impact nonetheless.

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