Venezuelan Ambassador returns to Burlington

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(Host) Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United States made a return trip to Burlington today.

Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez is on a tour of Northeastern states to check on the progress of Venezuela’s home heating oil program.

The program offers heating assistance to low-income residents at a 40% discount for up to 200 gallons of fuel. It also provides free heating oil to homeless shelters.

According to the ambassador, Venezuela has delivered about 500,000 gallons of reduced-rate fuel to Vermont.

Ambassador Alvarez says Venezuela is now taking steps to expand the program into community development.

(Alvarez) “We have done some pilot programs for example, in Delaware, we are trying to put together some cooperation between Delaware and some cities in Venezuela. They have a lot of things in national parks that can help us but also they can host Venezuelan students that want to learn English or even learn music, because there are a lot of good music schools in Delaware. Those are the kinds of things, going beyond the idea of providing heating oil and trying to foster cooperation between the two countries.”

(Host) Ambassador Alvarez says that political tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela should not supersede the humanitarian needs of the two countries.

The deal for discounted oil was originally brokered last year when Senator Bernie Sanders was in the U.S. House.

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