With the death of Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez and the declining fortunes of its parent company Petróleos de Venezuela, Boston-area liberals must now brace for a change of ownership at Citgo and its iconic
Kenmore Square Citgo sign.
Chavez was a special man for liberals, who learned to love military dictator, who took robbed from the rich, gave to the poor and financed similarly unsustainable socialist governments. His subsidies to Cuba, Bolivia and Columbian rebels proved to liberals that he was a man who acted on his liberal convictions.
If any liberal felt that twinge of conscience over Chavez’s repression of free speech and free enterprise, they could reflect fondly on Hugo’s comparing George W. Bush to Satan and remember again why they first fell in love.
The Kennedy’s, one of the great noble families of Massachusetts liberalism, have made millions of dollars off Chavez, through its Citizens Energy Group. Citizens Energy is a non-profit trust that buys home heating oil at below market prices from Citgo and resells to disadvantaged customers at a discount. In the deal, Chavez got the benefit of the Kennedy stamp of approval and the Kennedy’s got a generous business partner, whose generosity helped them expand into water treatment, natural gas and a massive steam plant outside of Indianapolis.
Many of the opponents of the extension of the Keystone XL pipeline want to stop the project because it will bring heavy shale-derived oil to American refineries. Unlike sweet crudes, like those from Libya or Mid-Texas, the pollution from Canadian oil is dark and filthy.
This is a problem for TransCanada, the owner of Keystone XL.
It was not a problem for Chavez, whose crude was just as heavy and dirty as the Canadian oil, because liberals gave him a hall pass. You have never read a word about the environmental impact of Venezuelan oil.
It will be interesting to see when the Citgo sale is complete how Boston-area liberals will react. Methinks they will manufacture a media-panic regarding the stewardship of the Citgo sign. Maybe the liberals will demand that the new owners transfer the sign to a non-profit bank account they will control or some other scheme. Regardless of how it goes down, it will go down, and the Boston media will take it all at face value, never questioning why Corporation X is evil, but Chavez and his gang of thieves were cool beans.
For many people, the Citgo sign is wrapped up in our love for the Red Sox.
For me, part of it is about the Red Sox and its perch over the Fenway Park. But, the other part of it was that growing up I would see the Citgo sign on the way home to Franklin.
In those days—or really nights—I was amazed at the flashing lights on so many of the buildings. The ones I remember were the Schrafft’s sign in Charlestown, the Gillette “World Shaving Headquarters” sign in South Boston and my absolute favorite, the “Drink Coke, Enjoy Coca-Cola” sign in Cambridge at the entrance to the Mass Pike, where the Double Tree Hotel now stands.
The Schrafft’s sign still beams out, to the cars on 93, but the company no longer exists. Gillette’s sign was just wonderfully restored with LED lights, but the company is now just another brand inside Proctor and Gamble. Coca-Cola still exists, but no one has any idea what happened to that sign.
No sign has the cache or juice of the Citgo sign, though. There was a time the company shut it off to save money and the uproar shocked the company and really opened their eyes to its potential as a marketing asset.
Certainly the new Citgo owner will have figured the sign’s goodwill value in the purchase price. Let us hope, the new owner is prepared to be treated like the hated new stepfather by liberals—who can never forget their hero Hugo Chavez, a dictator who signed off too soon.