For those of us with reservations
about America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil and how it
drives our foreign policy, buying gas isn’t just expensive,
it’s depressing. Every $2.25 gallon of regular unleaded we
pump into our cars at our local Mobil station is, we know,
helping to perpetuate global imperialism, but what are we
to do? Ride a bike? Take the bus? Yeah, right.
Well Jeff Cohen, progressive
journalist and founder of media watchdog group Fairness and
Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), wrote an article we read on
commondreams.org last Monday which opened our eyes to a solution
right under our noses. While a gas boycott is impossible for
those who really need to drive, and unlikely for those who
simply like to drive, there is another way, something Cohen
calls a "buy-cott."
"Of the top oil producing
countries in the world, writes Cohen, "only one is a
democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of
using his nation’s oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country
is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez."
Think Bush is an asshole? So
does Chavez, and he’s said so openly. Maybe that’s because
Bush has done everything he can to topple the popular leader,
in part because Chavez’ rule sets a bad precedent for those
who would keep third world countries under the heavy thumb
of corporate exploitation.
It turns out that Citgo, US
refining firm and a national chain of gas stations which pepper
our town, is a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.
As Cohen writes:
By buying your gasoline
at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars
that Venezuela’s democratic government is using to provide
health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for
the majority of Venezuelans.
Instead of using government
to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is
using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help
the poor in Venezuela. A country with so much oil wealth shouldn’t
have 60 percent of its people living in poverty, earning less
than $2 per day. With a mass movement behind him, Chavez is
confronting poverty in Venezuela. That’s why large majorities
have consistently backed him in democratic elections. And
why the Bush administration supported an attempted military
coup in 2002 that sought to overthrow Chavez.
What’s more, your money doesn’t
go to the Middle East, or Exxon/Mobil, or Halliburton, or
the campaign coffers of the most corrupt politicians in America.
So do it. We’re not asking
you to stop buying gas; we know that’s not going to happen.
But driving an extra couple of blocks to get it just isn’t
that hard, especially if it relieves your conscience just
a little. To help you get started, We've listed the addresses
of some Citgo stations in Buffalo on the right side of this