Joe Kennedy Struggling With Death of Pal Hugo Chavez, Who Backed his Oil Charity

Monday, 11 Mar 2013 11:10 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy offered his prayers on Tuesday for the family of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who was a vital contributor to Citizens Energy Corp. – the nonprofit charitable organization founded by Kennedy, the eldest son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy

For years, Kennedy, 60, benefitted from receiving millions of dollars' worth of oil from Venezuela-owned refiner Citgo which was discounted to his non-profit by the former South American socialist leader, who routinely opposed the United States, having at one point referred to Former U.S. Pres. George W. Bush "The Devil."

Citizens Energy Corp. received Venezuela crude oil at a special low price and then sold it off at market rate, with the proceeds going to provide low-cost and free home heating services and supplies to underserved families in the U.S. and around the world.

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Kennedy said he turned to Chavez after American fuel companies refused to donate oil to his program, reported The New York Post.

In return for his support, Kennedy routinely praised Chavez.

In an interview with The Associated Press last Wednesday, Kennedy said that Chavez cared about the poor at a time when "some of the wealthiest people on our planet have more money than they can ever reasonably expect to spend."

According to Kennedy, who had been a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, Chavez was able to help more than two million needy people through his contributions to the nonprofit.

The poor were not the only ones who benefitted from Chavez's oil donations. Kennedy and his wife earned more than $1 million in salary and benefits from a web of for-profit and nonprofit energy concerns connected with Citizens Energy Corp., reported the Post.

At this point, the future of Kennedy's oil charity is unclear, considering how much it relied on the former Venezuelan strongman for his charity and the fact that nation is currently facing economic and possibly political turmoil in the near future.

"I think Venezuela is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, and Chavez, for his own populist reasons, gave away the store in Venezuela by giving free oil to Cuba, discounted oil to other Latin American countries and free oil to Joe Kennedy," John Hofmeister, head of the watchdog group Citizens for Affordable Energy and former president of Shell Oil, told the Post.

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"The question of whether they can continue to do that and run the country, I think is really up in the air."

Citizens Energy Corp. has not commented on the future of its oil supply from Venezuela.

Related stories:

Chavez Propped Up Cuba, 'Father' Figure Fidel Castro

John Fund: Why Chavez Death May not Be Such Good News

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