Venezuela to donate $5 million Harvey aid, despite cash crunch

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has offered $5 million to victims of Hurricane Harvey in the United States despite a major economic crisis in the South American country that has left millions short of food and medicine. Venezuela's U.S.-based oil subsidiary Citgo, a unit of state oil company PDVSA, will cooperate with local authorities in Houston to distribute the funds, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on state television. Venezuela's socialist government has in the past given subsidized heating oil to poor Americans and sent aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Venezuela's already strained relations with the United States took a nosedive this year with Washington imposing various sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro's cash-strapped government. President Donald Trump went as far as to say a military intervention may be on the cards, though U.S. officials quickly rolled that idea back. Venezuela is suffering a fourth year of brutal recession, and has been rocked by political turmoil and mass street protests against Maduro. Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm, bore down on eastern Texas and Louisiana on Wednesday, bringing the kind of catastrophic downpours that paralyzed the oil hub of Houston with record rainfall and drove tens of thousands of people from their homes. (Reporting by Girish Gupta; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Alistair Bell)

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