Venezuela's Huge Chavez has been one of the more polarizing political figures on the world stage, beloved by many, hated by just as many if not more.
Citgo is a huge energy company based in Houston, incorporated under U.S. laws....but owned by Venezuela.
Which put the company in somewhat of a tough spot when Chavez finally succumbed to cancer Tuesday.
The company apparently decided to take two steps: 1) Honor Chavez as if he was utterly uncontroversial; and 2) Not talk to anyone about that decision.
Reporters in Houston, and energy reporters everywhere, got an e-mail from the company in the wake of Chavez's death.
It was headed "CITGO Expresses its Condolences to the People of Venezuela" and it read:
President Hugo Chávez of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela leaves behind a legacy of support for the underprivileged and promotion of social justice that transcends geographical boundaries. We at CITGO Petroleum Corporation are deeply saddened by the news of his passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the people of Venezuela in this time of grief.
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The company also flew the flags at its Houston headquarters at half-staff.
When we received the e-mail, we asked company spokesman Fernando Garay if the company had any concerns about a possible backlash. We're still waiting to hear back, as are most if not all other reporters who no doubt asked the same question, judging from the stories written.
Citgo has faced questions about the Chavez connection before. We can only assume they're hoping Venezuela's new leader is a little more low-key.