Venezuela's Maduro Says Citgo to Boost U.S. Welfare Project

CARACAS, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said state oil company PDVSA's U.S. unit, Citgo Petroleum Corp, will continue a welfare project in the United States begun by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.


"Our plans with Citgo are to keep strengthening our investment," Maduro said in a speech late Tuesday in New York, adding it was already supplying heating oil to 150,000 low-income families around the United States.


"We need to consolidate and improve the heating oil project ... so that working people on low resources and income do not die of cold in the winter," he added in his address to social groups in New York City's Bronx borough. Maduro is in New York for the current session of the U.N. General Assembly.


Some local media in Venezuela interpreted the comments as a sign the government may be reconsidering plans to sell Citgo. It has been seeking offers of up to $10 billion, according to sources.


But beyond talking about a continued commitment to the project for the U.S. poor, Maduro said nothing specifically about that.


Though opponents mock the U.S. heating oil giveaway as a public relations stunt, government supporters said it was another illustration of the deeply humanist nature of the socialist policies begun under Chavez, who ruled from 1999-2013.


"That's why Chavez earned a place in heaven, Chavez won the right to be next to Christ our redeemer, because he was a true Christian," Maduro said in his speech.

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