Seeking to "Assist" Low-Income Detroit Families
On June 14, 2006, Ambassador Bernado Alvarez Herrera, Venezuela's envoy to the United States met with the Legislative Black Caucus in Lansing with several Detroit city officials, including council members JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones, Kwame Kenyatta, Martha Reeves and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to discuss how to expand his country’s programs that help the poor. He said that his country, under President Hugo Chavez wants to provide heating assistance and free eye surgery to needy Detroiters. Herrera's visit was facilitated by MI State Rep. Lamar Lemmons III. His consulate, General Martin E. Sanchez of Chicago traveled with him. Shortly prior to Herrera's visit, several African American civil rights leaders, including Harry Belafonte and Dr. Cornel West had visited Caracas. Herrera stated that such visits were integral: "They provide a catalyst to the assistance his country is now offering to low-income families and help foster the relationship it wants to build with Blacks in America." That evening, the visitors and city officials attended community reception featuring a "grassroots potluck" dinner, hosted by Michigan Welfare Right Organization which was attended by approximately 150 people. The event was supported by the U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange, Justice for Cuba Coalition, Latinos Unidos, International Action Center and Call ’Em Out. At the reception, Alvarez announced a new program to extend the free eye surgery program begun by Cuba to the U.S. Midwest.
- Pan-African News Wire: Free Eye Surgery, Heating-oil for Detroit Venezuela Ambassador Announces, by Kenneth Snodgrass, circa June 2006 (accessed on Feb. 11, 2011)
- Michigan Citizen: Venezuela offers help to Detroit, by Bankole Thompson, circa June 2006 (accessed on Feb. 11, 2011)
- Pan-African News Wire: Venezuelan ambassador discusses ‘offensive against poverty’, by Cheryl LaBash, June 30, 2006 (accessed on Feb. 11, 2011)