“It is a great honor to be here, especially today, working with an organization from Haiti that began as a medical mission thanks to assistance from Chávez and Venezuela,” said U.S. social activist and actor Sean Penn, who spoke at a graduation ceremony for integral community health professionals alongside Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
President Chávez thanked Penn for his presence, calling him “a good friend, and not just to us, but to the human cause… to peace.”
Penn recalled a moment when, in speaking with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the activist said that he was educating his children to be socialist revolutionaries. Castro replied: “that is the second best thing you can do for them; the first best thing would be to educate them in the white coat of a doctor.”
Meanwhile, President Chávez said that, just as Penn has assumed the role of itinerant ambassador for the Haitian people, the regional group ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas) has been cooperating intensely with Haiti for years and increased aid to the island after the earthquake on January 25, 2011.
The Venezuelan leader said that as part of that cooperation, during the 11th Summit of ALBA on February 4-5 in Caracas, the heads of state and government created an ALBA-Haiti working group that is prioritizing the areas of health, education, energy, agricultural production and infrastructure.
Venezuela’s Citgo Continues to Provide Aid to U.S. Families
At the same ceremony President Hugo, highlighted the cut-rate heating oil provided to low-income families in the U.S. by Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA.
“Poor families in the United States are receiving [heating oil] subsidies, and in some cases, donations, during the winters, which are becoming harsher each year due to the climate change that threatens the planet,” Chávez said.
“The large U.S. corporations are not collaborating. That’s capitalism. We are socialists… we are supporting thousands of poor families,” he added.
The leader also expressed that this type of cooperation is made possible due to intensified work in the Orinoco Oil Belt, where the Venezuelan government is investing billions of dollars.
“We are hiring new workers… and beginning to build refineries and [heavy oil] upgrading facilities,” Chávez said.
The Orinoco Oil Belt is a large deposit of extra-heavy oil stretching across the states of Guárico (in the plains region), Anzoátegui and Monagas (in the northeast). It is the site of the largest proven oil reserves in the world.
Ministry of People’s Power for Foreign Relations / Press – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / February 17, 2012