Detroit invites Venezuela to discuss energy aid

Oct 05, 2005 02:00 AM

With winter’s chill edging into Michigan, Detroit City Council members have sent a letter inviting the Consul General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to meet with them and the community at large "to discuss more fully President Chavez’s proposal and possible ways of implementing it" in this city. All eight current Council members signed the Sept. 19 letter.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, when visiting the United States during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, offered to help poor communities get oil and gas cheap during this period of high world oil prices. Venezuela is the largest oil producer in the Western Hemisphere.

The Council’s letter made the need clear:
"Detroit, the 11th largest city in the United States, was just reported to be the poorest major city. One in three Detroiters and nearly half of our children under age 17 live below the Federal poverty level. Our unemployment rate is at least 30 %, much higher than the national average. Our infant mortality rate is around 15 per thousand live births.”
“Our city budget is in deficit, causing cutbacks in city services and in workers’ wages and benefits. Thousands of households have had water service shut off because of inability to pay. This winter, with gas and oil prices skyrocketing, many families will suffer terribly.”

"At the same time Detroit has always reached out a fraternal hand to other nations. Our City Council has opposed the US blockade against Cuba, called for an end to the Iraq war and called for US troops to be removed from South Korea. Many of our local community and political leaders are campaigning for ‘Money for our cities, not for war in Iraq.’”
"We certainly have watched with hope and support as Venezuela’s current government diverts much of the national budget to programs that benefit the workers and the poor. We oppose all efforts by the US government to interfere in or subvert the progress of Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez."

Gasoline prices have spiked at around $ 3 per gallon here, increasing the hardships for car-dependent workers. Already public service announcements on radio and television are issuing advice and "tips" on how to make single-family homes, which are prevalent in this area, more weather-tight. Heating costs reportedly will increase by 40 % this winter.
But no amount of dialling down the thermostat, putting plastic on windows and increasing insulation will erase the crisis for many families this winter. Utility shut-offs for non-payment will now cut both heat and light, due to a merger of the Detroit Edison electric company and Michigan Consolidated Gas into DTE Energy.

Every winter children and seniors die in house fires accidentally set when candles or space heaters are used to provide warmth and light.
This is why the Metro-Detroit Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, US/Cuba Labour Exchange, UAW union presidents and others are enthusiastically supporting the City Council's invitation.

Source: PIN/Workers World
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