CITGO Could Get Florida's Boot

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CITGO Could Get Florida's Boot

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Eight CITGO stations may have to pay the price for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's statement last week about U.S. President George W. Bush. A south Florida legislator wants the state to cancel its contracts with the stations that reside along the Florida Turnpike, the Tallahassee Democrat Capitol reported.

Rep. Adam Hasner (R-Delray Beach) has written a letter to the state's Department of Transportation secretary, Denver Stutler, asking for the contract's cancellation.

"As you are aware, CITGO is wholly owned by Petroleos de Venezuela, the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," Hasner wrote last week to Stutler. "We must send a clear message to Chavez and the current government of Venezuela that the state of Florida and our citizens will not support institutions that seek the destabilization of America and our institutions and freedoms."

Chavez has openly criticized the U.S. and its policy, and continued to do so last week when he addressed the United Nations (UN) and called President Bush "the devil."

"The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said while crossing at the podium where the president appeared the day before. "It still smells of sulfur today."

Transportation department officials are reviewing the letter, transportation spokesman Dick Kane told the Tallahassee Democrat Capitol. Kane could not estimate how much the 1994 CITGO contract is worth. "At this point, all I can say is that we're reviewing the letter," he told the newspaper.