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Venezuela brings free heating oil to poor in NY

Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez may be a pariah in Washington, but on Friday the U.S. arm of the country's state oil company loaded up a truck of heating oil for poor Americans in New York City.

The shipment to New York's South Bronx section follows a similar giveaway in Boston earlier this week, in the third year of U.S. heating oil assistance by Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum. The program has grown even as tensions have mounted between Caracas and U.S. oil companies and their allies in Washington.

Former U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy and Alejandro Granado, president of Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum, climbed atop a fuel truck to fill it up at a fuel terminal in the South Bronx Hunts Point neighborhood.

Granado and Kennedy, head of a nonprofit group called Citizens Energy, gave a thumbs up to a small crowd of residents and Citgo employees wearing red jackets.

"This is a gift coming from the heart of the Venezuelan people to the heart of the American people," Granado told the crowd, some of whom held bright yellow, blue, and red Venezuelan flags handed out by Citgo staff.

The heating oil program, which provides a one-time heating oil delivery of 100 gallons to low-income Americans, will donate 45 million gallons, or more than $100 million worth, of heating oil to more than 200,000 families in 23 states this winter, according to Citgo.

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