Former Rep. Joe Kennedy teams up with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez — again

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For the sixth straight year and with the help of Joseph Kennedy II’s non-profit Citizens Energy Corporation, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez is again attempting to win over America’s less fortunate with the promise of free energy.

The end of January marked the beginning of the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, a Venezuelan initiative to provide energy for needy individuals throughout the United States.

As a subsidiary of government-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, CITGO is synonymous with Venezuela’s anti-American, dissent-crushing president. Despite Chavez’s abysmal human rights record, hatred of capitalism, anti-Americanism, and blatant anti-Semitism, former Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Kennedy still finds it acceptable to partner with the Venezuelan oil giant.

“Every year, we hear from families who struggle each and every day to put food on the table and heat their homes,” said Kennedy in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to CITGO and the people of Venezuela for their generosity to those who need help keeping their families warm. Every year, we ask major oil companies and oil-producing nations to help our senior citizens and the poor make it through winter, and only one company, CITGO, and one country, Venezuela, has responded to our appeals.”

Despite his wintertime generosity, it is impossible to ignore Chavez’s ruthless leadership. Just a glance at his record since he took office in 1999 reveals mass press censorship (including a 30 month prison sentence for those who insult him) and takeovers, unlawful killings, torture, violent reprisals for political opponents, and nationalizations of private businesses.

His contempt for America is palpable. Speaking at UN headquarters in New York in 2006, Chavez called then President Bush a dictator and the devil (commenting that the podium still smelled like sulfur from when Bush had spoke the day before — several years later he said he believed Obama brought the same “stench”).

Not only has Chavez proclaimed America to be Venezuela’s “real enemy,” he has also said that the U.S. is the “first enemy” of its citizens, because after all, according to Chavez, “Capitalism will lead to the destruction of humanity.”

As if that were not disturbing enough, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has identified Chavez as a leader with nefarious intentions where Jews are concerned. This has manifest itself  in many ways, including in his alliances with some of the worlds most anti-Jew, radical Muslim leaders, such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

While it may appear that Chavez has merely expanded his propaganda efforts — after all, the program’s website reeks of class warfare, complete with a video of babushka dolls trying to decide between hot water and medicine — the effort does have an impact. According to Citizens Energy Corporation, the program helps an estimated 500,000 people a year in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

Chavez’s words are prominently displayed on the site, telling poor Americans that Venezuelan success will be their salvation.

“We are all americanos, and together we share the Bolivarian mission of giving hope and a better life to the poorest and most vulnerable — whether they live in Venezuela or Vermont,” says Chavez. “Our oil revenues are bringing literacy, health care and job training to millions of Venezuelans and it is our wish to extend this prosperity throughout the hemisphere. This program fulfills a promise I made to the people of the United States, and it is a gift warmly given to our American friends.”

Citizens Energy Corporation did not respond to requests for comment.