Adam Carman’s accusations and rants against Citgo, Venezuela, and Hugo Chávez in his recent (National Enquirer-styled) Star article are more damaging than constructive—and more false than true. His accusations are baseless. Do not believe his hokum. Don’t sign their hogwash petition!
· Hugo Chávez has not declared enmity towards the American people (more details below); yet he is a very strong critic of the US government operations and foreign policy—not the same thing.
· Hugo Chávez has never said he would be Bush’s “worst nightmare.” Adam, you got your presidents mixed up.
· Chávez is a democratically-elected president. He has won elections and referenda with irrefutable majorities—certified by American and other international organizations.
· The US government, too, has been hostile against the Venezuelan government by covertly backing a coup in 2002, among many other things.
· Pat Robertson, a famous American evangelist and influential leader, called for Chávez’s assassination (though he later apologized).
· US senators sent a letter to 10 major oil companies asking them to donate a portion of their recent record profits (remember Fall 2005 gas prices?) to go to the poor. The only response came from Citgo. So what did they donate? Read below…
· On Jan. 12, 2006, the state of Maine and the Venezuelan government signed a contract through Citgo to provide 8 million gallons of heating oil at a 40% discount to low-income residents and Native Americans.
· A statewide heating assistance program in Massachusetts began, through Citgo, Nov. 22, 2005; and a similar program in the Bronx started Dec. 6. Many more have started throughout the Northeast—a total of 25 million gallons of heating oil. (Any New Yorkers or New Englanders reading this?!) PA and DE are also on the list!
· Chávez, through Citgo, responded more quickly than FEMA and pledged US$1 million in oil, food, and material for Katrina victims. Chávez also offered two mobile hospital units, and 120 rescue and first aid experts.
· Chávez’s vast social programs in Venezuela provide healthcare, education and housing, and promote land reform, nutrition, rural development, and indigenous rights.
If we are going to pick on somebody, let’s pick on Mobil…
· ExxonMobil, which owns Mobil, has a remarkably worse reputation than Citgo over many issues (e.g., environment, human rights, price gouging). Check their record…
· Mobil has repeatedly lobbied against researching for renewable energy sources and is the only oil company member of Arctic Power, a pro-drilling lobby.
· It’s been nearly 17 years since the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil along the Alaska coast in one of the country’s worst environmental disasters, and a jury’s $5 billion judgment against the company is still tied up in the courts. The company only wants to pay $25 million.
· On January 30, 2006 ExxonMobil reported $36 billion profits on $371 billion sales during 2005—42% more than in 2004—more than any other oil company has ever earned during a single year. (The company’s record profits came at a time when working families across America struggled with ever-increasing gas and home heating costs.)
· Oil companies like Valero (a big one) reaped 4.7 cents per dollar in profit last year. Citgo earned just 1.3 cents per dollar.
· Places in the Middle East and other Muslim fundamentalist-influenced countries, where Mobil gets most of its oil, indoctrinate citizens to hate America and everything it entails. There’s no religious freedom, no democracy, women are treated like property. At least Venezuela is a democracy. So, we ask, where do you want your money to go?
· Prices at our Citgo are comparable to prices at other gas stations. “Students' calculations show that money spent driving to Fillmore or Nunda is reimbursed by savings at the pump”—ridiculous.
· The mini-mart has competition. That competition makes its money off selling beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets.
· The mini-mart was started by the Willard J. Houghton Foundation. The foundation is non-profit, dedicated to developing the Houghton College Campus and community. The mini-mart and Citgo are a service to our campus and community, without which everybody would have to travel to other towns to get gas.
· The same distributor of gasoline for the mini-mart also distributes Sunoco gas elsewhere, including Belfast. Chávez does not control the distribution channels or the pricing of gas. No retail seller in their right mind would pay more for gas to make some form of political statement. They all want to pay the least. Venezuela does not own the distributors or the retailers. Venezuela only owns Citgo’s name.
· Carman gave no indication of respectfully discussing the proposed “public protest and boycott” with the gas station managers. As a community-focused campus, don't we have the obligation to communicate such dramatic intentions with those whom our protest will affect? Shouldn't we be concerned for the economic well-being of those whose livelihoods depend on us?
· Finally, Carman’s Star article (which was originally twice as long and blatantly less sensible—you can ask Adam Carman for a copy) is a combination of research failure, and opinions presented as fact. Certainly, as an academic institution, we should strive to have intellectual debate about matters of this gravity, rather than seeking to motivate a student body by utilizing deplorable means.
To sign or not to sign, you decide.
--Endorsed by the Houghton Coalition for Truth, Evangelicals for Social Action, Jeff Spear, and Ted Murphy
Please submit any questions or comments to Chelsea.Kinsman@houghton.edu
Nota Bene: All of our sources are of reputable nature, public dominion, and common sense.
--Approved by the Office of Student Life--