On Tuesday, Venezuelan and U.S. officials helped pump the first delivery of heating oil into a building in the Bronx. Photo Credit: By Rick Maiman -- Bloomberg News
This is just too perfect; President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela knows how to make friends. The U.S. government wants the populist leader gone, but his constituents fought off a coup attempt in 2002 and voted in a parliament to his taste just last week.
Now he is selling heating oil from his country's ample stock cheaply to nonprofits that serve poor residents in the U.S. Northeast. The gesture is popular reports the WaPo:
The Venezuelan leader knows the maxim every teacher tries to impart to aspiring writers "Show, Don't Tell." If you want us to believe governments can serve the poor as well as the rich, show us.
This is not the only time I've seen a regime the U.S. government opposed woo U.S. citizens with generosity. When I visited Cuba in 1988 with a scraggly band of lefties, the Cubans offered to fix up our teeth for free, knowing full well that dental insurance was out of the question for most. The power of the gesture was less in the value of the offer itself (though for some it was a great gift) than in the recognition of our likely situation and needs in our country. We felt seen, just like Shirley Manuel.