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Venezuela Dictator Vows to Bring Down U.S. Government (Citgo / Petro Express Boycott)

Netlore Archive: AFA email flyer urges Americans to boycott Venezuela-owned Citgo gas stations in response to anti-U.S. statements made by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Description: Email flyer
Circulating since: Jan. 2006
Status: Partly True / Ineffective

Example #1:
Email contributed by Roger C., Feb. 11, 2006:

Subject: Citgo gas

We must not buy from Citgo anymore! Americans can put a chokehold on this despot by cutting off this major money source... yet again, it's time to take action!!! I did check this and it does appear to be true.

Butch

Venezuela Dictator Vows To Bring Down U.S. Government

Venezuela government is sole owner of Citgo gasoline company

Venezuela Dictator Hugo Chavez has vowed to bring down the U.S. government. Chavez, president of Venezuela, told a TV audience: "Enough of imperialist aggression; we must tell the world: down with the U.S. empire. We have to bury imperialism this century."

The guest on his television program, beamed across Venezuela, was Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist. Chavez recently had as his guest Harry Belafonte, who called President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world."

Chavez is pushing a socialist revolution and has a close alliance with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Regardless of your feelings about the war in Iraq, the issue here is that we have a socialist dictator vowing to bring down the government of the U.S. And he is using our money to achieve his goal!

The Venezuela government, run by dictator Chavez, is the sole owner of Citgo gas company. Sales of products at Citgo stations send money back to Chavez to help him in his vow to bring down our government.

Take Action

Please decide that you will not be shopping at a Citgo station. Why should U.S. citizens who love freedom be financing a dictator who has vowed to take down our government?

Very important. Please forward this to your friends and family. Most of them don't know that Citgo is owned by the Venezuela government.

Thanks for caring enough to get involved.




Example #2:
Email contributed by Elna S., Feb. 21, 2006:

CHECK THIS OUT!


Cindy Sheehan and Hugo Chavez

Cindy Sheehan & Chavez


Venezuela Dictator Vows to Bring Down U.S. Government

Venezuela government is sole owner of Citgo gasoline company

Venezuela Dictator Hugo Chavez has vowed to bring down the U.S. government. Chavez, president of Venezuela, told a TV audience: "Enough of imperialist aggression; we must tell the world: down with the U.S. empire. We have to bury imperialism this century."

The guest on his television program, beamed across Venezuela, was Cindy Sheehan, the antiwar activist. Chavez recently had as his guest Harry Belafonte, who called President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world."

Chavez is pushing a socialist revolution and has a close alliance with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Regardless of your feelings about the war in Iraq, the issue here is that we have a socialist dictator vowing to bring down the government of the U.S. And he is using our money to achieve his goal!

The Venezuela government, run by dictator Chavez, sole owner of Citgo gas co. Sales of products at Citgo stations send money back to Chavez to help him in his vow to bring down our government.

Take Action

Please decide that you will not be shopping at a Citgo station. Why should U.S. citizens who love freedom be financing a dicator who has vowed to take down our government?

Very important. Please forward this to your friends and family. Most of them don't know that Citgo is owned by the Venezuela government.



Update: Variants of this message circulating since November 2006 claim that some Citgo stations have changed their name to Petro Express in order to avoid being boycotted. One message states that "Petro Express is also 100% owned by Chavez." This is false.

Petro Express is a chain of gas stations/convenience stores wholly owned by a U.S. company based in North Carolina. Until recently, Petro Express did sell gasoline purchased from Citgo Petroleum Corp., but the company announced in October 2006 that it would phase out the Citgo product from all of its 66 stations by 2007.


Analysis: Is it just me, or has this whole notion of trying to punish countries and companies we don't like by boycotting their products at the gas pump reached the pinnacle of absurdity?

In the present case we are asked to eschew gasoline from Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company, because that nation's president has made anti-American statements. Sounds straightforward enough, but another very popular email flier says we shouldn't buy gas from the Middle East because terrorists come from that region (in fact, Citgo is named as a preferred alternative to these brands). Yet another forwarded message calls for a one-day boycott of all brands of gasoline to let OPEC know we're fed up with inflated prices. What's a consumer to do?

Further confusing the issue is the fact that most of these companies import crude oil from more than one region, they trade supplies back and forth to meet demand, and they share pipelines as it suits them -- meaning, ultimately, that no matter where you buy your gas, you can never really be sure what country it came from. Case in point: According to U.S. Department of Energy records for 2005, BP, Chevron, Conoco, Exxon Mobil, and Valero, to name but a few, all bought crude oil imported from Venezuela.

The upshot? By all means, boycott Citgo gasoline if your conscience moves you to, but bear in mind that if you continue to use gasoline at all, whatever the brand, you can't help but put money in Hugo Chavez's pocket. According to industry sources, the folks most likely to be hurt by such a boycott are the independent U.S. owners of Citgo-branded stations, not the Venezuelan government.

Q. Where did this message come from?

A. It was originally issued in January 2006 as an "action alert" by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy group.

Q. Is it true that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez vowed on television to "bring down the U.S. government"?

A. That's one interpretation of his actual words: "Enough of imperialist aggression; we must tell the world: down with the U.S. empire. We have to bury imperialism this century."

Arguably, when Chavez said "down with the U.S. empire," he was referring to U.S. foreign policy, not the country itself, nor its people, nor its government. It's standard far-left anti-imperialist rhetoric, and was certainly interpreted as such by the mainstream media. Associated Press, for example, characterized the speech as an invective against "U.S. dominance." Reuters described it as a campaign against "U.S. free-market policies in South America."

In any case, while it is crystal clear that Chavez hates United States foreign policy, his statements fell well short of a declaration of war.

Q. Was anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan present when Chavez made the speech?

A. Yes. The photograph above showing the two standing arm-in-arm was distributed by Reuters. Both Sheehan and Chavez made statements from the podium criticizing President Bush and the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Q. Did Harry Belafonte also make a TV appearance with Chavez during which the entertainer called President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world"?

A. Yes, on January 8, 2006.

Q. Is Chavez an ally of Fidel Castro, and is he "pushing a socialist revolution"?

A. Yes, and yes.

Q. Is Hugo Chavez a "dictator"?

A. Here we have another exercise in semantics. Judging by a survey of published mentions of the Venezuelan leader, it appears the way one answers this question depends upon one's political bias. Those left of center like to point out that Chavez was democratically elected -- twice -- and continues to be regarded by many inside and outside Venezuela as a populist visionary. Right-of-center detractors tend to use words like "strongman," or "on the road to becoming a dictator," or just plain "dictator" to describe him. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared Chavez to Hitler; televangelist Pat Robertson actually called for his assassination. At the other extreme, certified lefties like Cindy Sheehan and Harry Belafonte have praised Chávez for "supporting life and peace." The truth surely lies somewhere in between.

Q. Is Citgo owned by the Venezuelan government?

A. Yes.

Q. Can American consumers avoid contributing dollars to Venezuela's treasury by boycotting Citgo gasoline?

A. Not entirely. See above.


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Sources and further reading:

Petro Express Nixing Citgo Gas
Charlotte Observer, 17 October 2006

Citgo Gas Boycott Urged by Conservative Religious Group
Reuters, 1 February 2006

Sheehan, Chavez Bash Bush, Iraq War
Associated Press, 30 January 2006

Belafonte Calls Bush 'Greatest Terrorist'
Associated Press, 8 January 2006

Venezuela: President Agitates for Socialist Revolution
Green Left Weekly, 9 March 2005

The Iron Fist of Hugo Chavez
Fox News, 4 February 2005

Making a Political Statement at the Gas Pump
Christian Science Monitor, 4 November 2002

Web Activists Send Emails to Protest Oil and Gas Costs
Washington Post, 14 September 2005

Primer on Gasoline Sources and Markets
U.S. Energy Information Agency


Last updated: 09/21/06


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