Venezuela to keep sending free fuel to US poor
"Chavez decided that it was a mistake," said Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs. He said Citgo officials probably recommended the cost-saving measure to Chavez in the first place, but the impact may not have sunk in until the president saw the reaction.
He then "began to understand that the cutbacks of the U.S. program were very damaging in terms of image," Birns said.
Donating oil to low-income people in the United States may not seem an image-booster for a president whose core support is among Venezuela's poor and working class.
But Birns and other analysts say Chavez wants to show he's keeping to commitments, even in the face of falling oil earnings that are cutting into government revenues. The president is facing a key vote as early as Feb. 15 on abolishing term limits, and his moves beforehand are expected to be carefully weighed with an eye to his support.