Venezuela has expanded its controversial program for
subsidizing cheap heating oil in the U.S., adding Connecticut to the growing
list of participating states.
As part of the program, Venezuela will provide 4.8 million
gallons of heating oil at a 40 percent discount to Connecticut homes that qualify
for state home heating assistance, according to Reuters.
About 15,000 low-income citizens in Connecticut will benefit
from the program.
Six other states – Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Vermont – have already joined the program. The Bronx in New York City is also participating.
Reuters reported that the program, which is described
as humanitarian aid by Venezuelan officials, has drawn praise from some and
harsh criticism from others.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal praised the
program, saying that it “fills an unfortunate, profoundly important need” for Connecticut citizens.
Others, including Rep. Joe Barton, R-TX, and Rep. Ed
Whitfield, R-KY, questioned the motives behind the program.
Barton said that, given the tense state of relations between
the Venezuelan and U.S. governments, he wondered if the sales were “part of an
unfriendly government’s increasingly belligerent and hostile foreign policy,” Reuters reported.