BBC moonlights as Hugo Chavez' PR firm
Officials from Venezuela and Massachusetts have signed a deal to provide cheap heating oil to low-income homes in the US state.Contrary to the headline, the "US" has been given nothing at all, and despite the implication of the lead, government officials didn't sign anything. Actually, the deal was signed by officials from Citizens Energy, a private, non-profit corporation based in Massachusetts, and officials from CITGO, a US-based company that is owned by PVD America, itself a subsidiary of the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela SA.
It is true that the deal was initiated by contacts betwen a Massachusetts politician, William Delahunt, and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. But the spokesman for Delahunt said that Delahunt "did not get involved in the details of the contract", and he characterized the deal as one between "'a US company and two nonprofits."
BTW, according to the Boston Globe the $9 million deal represents a discount of about 40%, which is an effective "donation" to the non-profits of about $6 million. In contrast, for the year 2004, Exxon Mobile (to take just one example) made charitable donations of $106.5 million in cash, goods, and services, including $35.8 million in countries other than the United States. No word yet on whether the BBC plans on covering these donations.