The Venezuelan government reversed course Wednesday, announcing that its U.S. oil subsidiary would continue to provide free home heating oil to poor Americans two days after the government announced that the program had been suspended.
Critics of President Hugo Chavez had pummeled him since Monday for suspending a program that he had milked for its maximum publicity as a champion of the poor, even in the U.S.
In the wake of Monday's announced halt, analysts had predicted this was only the first of Chavez's ambitious foreign assistance programs that would disappear, given the sharp drop in oil prices and the Venezuelan government's dependence on oil export income.
Venezuelan government officials wasted no time in reinstating the program, which saved about 180,000 U.S. households around $260 apiece in 2008. That covered about one month's heating bill.
Among the beneficiaries of the 100 gallons of heating oil were 65 Indian tribes, including those in Alaska, Montana and South Dakota.