Out Cold

No More Charity From Hugo

While many Americans are reveling in lower gas prices, other will be shivering as shrinking oil revenues have forced Venezuela to end its program providing home heating-oil assistance to poor Americans. The three-year-old program had helped 200,000 low-income people in 23 states. But with President Hugo Chavez's current campaign to eliminate presidential term limits, he needs all the domestic support he can get. That means selling oil instead of giving it away and then pumping that money back into Venezuela. "He is deciding to worry about his own domestic politics instead of ours," said the director of Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "He's shoring up all the domestic political support he can get." The cutoff of the program was announced yesterday by Joseph P. Kennedy II, who chairs Citizens Energy, which administered the program.