Venezuela has offered $5 million in aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the United States despite the deteriorating relationship between Caracas and Washington.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on state television on Wednesday that Venezuela’s US-based oil subsidiary Citgo, a unit of state oil company PDVSA, would cooperate with local authorities in Houston, Texas, to distribute the funds.
“There will be direct aid from Citgo, a contribution of up to 5 million dollars, to support the affected families affected in Houston and Corpus Christi in collaboration and coordination with their mayors and local authorities, of course. In second place, we are planning on allocating a percentage of sales of our production of Citgo gasoline towards the construction and substitution of housing and shelters.”
“We put at their disposal everything the Bolivarian revolution can contribute at the moment of supplies, from brigade members, rescue workers, community doctors who were trained with the spirit of addressing this kind of catastrophe, Petrocasas (mass housing), and everything that the affected area could need right now. We repeat: this is an expression of Venezuela’s solidarity, beyond any political difference, that we must express today in the face of the effects of a devastating natural phenomenon.”
The announcement comes as Venezuela itself is suffering from a fourth year of recession.
Venezuela’s socialist government has in the past given subsidized heating oil to poor Americans and sent aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Venezuela’s already strained relations with the United States took a nosedive this year with Washington imposing various sanctions against the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The United States recently imposed potentially hard-hitting economic sanctions on Venezuela, barring banks from any new financial dealings with the PDVSA.
The White House announced that President Donald Trump had signed an executive order “imposing strong, new financial sanctions” on the government of Venezuela.
Trump went so far as to say a military intervention may be on the cards, though US officials quickly rolled that idea back.
The US president said earlier this month that he might order military action against Venezuela. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.”
White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently said the Trump administration was not planning any “military actions” against Venezuela “in the near future.”
Storm Harvey bears down on Louisiana
Latest reports indicated that tropical Storm Harvey had made landfall again in the state of Louisiana after hovering in the Gulf of Mexico. The monster Storm Harvey has evoked painful memories of Hurricane Katrina.
Harvey, which previously reached the hurricane status, has dumped record rainfall in the region.
Large parts of Houston are under water, and more than 20 people are reported to have died dead. Thousands of people have fled their homes. The weather is said to be improving in Texas