Offer comes despite US sanctions against South American nation
Venezuela will donate $5 million to aid recovery efforts in areas of Texas hit by Hurricane Harvey, the government said Wednesday.
The move comes despite a political and economic crisis that has plagued the country, and recent U.S. sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
In a message broadcast on state television, Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza said the funds will be delivered through Venezuela’s U.S.-based oil subsidiary Citgo, a unit of state oil company PDVSA,.
"We want to express our solidarity with the noble and hard-working people of the United States, specifically of Texas and Louisiana, who have suffered from the effects of the passing of Hurricane Harvey," Arreaza said.
Arreaza said the government planned to dedicate a percentage of Citgo’s gasoline sales to finance the construction and replacement of houses.
"When an American fills his tank at a Citgo gas station, he will contribute to rebuilding the affected areas in solidarity with the Venezuelan government,” he said.
The aid is not unprecedented for Venezuela’s socialist government. In 2005, former President Hugo Chavez offered humanitarian aid and fuel to the U.S. to mitigate the damage from Hurricane Katrina.
The latest offer of help comes amid tense diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the South American country.
In recent weeks, Washington has imposed economic sanctions against Venezuela after Maduro launched a new constituent assembly that has the power to rewrite the Constitution and dissolve institutions.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he would not rule out a "military option" in Venezuela to put an end to the economic and political crisis that has led to shortages of food and medicine and forced the government to eliminate its socialist programs.
The crises have resulted in deadly anti-government protests that killed at least 120 victims between April and July.