Venezuelan leader should be thanked

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2007

I read with interest the comments and feelings of people about villages in Alaska accepting fuel payments from Venezuela. Having spent a lot of time in rural villages, I know that having fuel is a necessity, not a luxury. And so, many Alaska villagers are accepting the gift of money to pay for their fuel, thanks to Venezuela.

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The other day, I listened to President Hugo Chavez's inaugural speech - in both Spanish and English. Yes he did quote Karl Marx, the Bible and others. Yes, he did condemn a monsignor who attacked him for his liberal ideas. Yes, he was open, frank and clear in what he said. He talked about such things as "from each according to his ability, and to each according to their need." It was clear to me that what he was saying would infuriate a lot of global corporations, some of our government officials and wealthy individuals. He was talking to the people, his people, the people who re-elected him. But as Eric Fromm pointed out years ago, love is not what one says, it is what one does.

If one compares President Chavez to our President Bush, the comparison is very sharp. Which one has tried to improve things for his people? Which one has been more "Christian," and doesn't just spout pious platitudes? I don't recall Venezuela invading any other nation in recent times. Love is not what people say, it is what they do. Venezuela has done what is right and did what the State of Alaska or others failed to do - to help the poor people in rural Alaska.

So my advice from a longtime Alaskan to those village people who benefit from the generosity of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela is, just send him and his country a note of thanks. He and his people have put their money where their mouth is. What a wonderful surprise - some government official in a Latin American country, far from the northland, actually did what he said he would do for Alaska rural villages. He said that he would help those in need and did it.

I think that all we need to say is, "Gracias" - thank you, and may others learn from their example.

Wallace Olson

Auke Bay

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