7-11 Drops Citgo, Citing Ties to Venezuela's Chavez

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7-Eleven is dropping Citgo as the gasoline supplier to its 2,100 stations around the country. The companies' contract was already set to expire, but 7-Eleven has been uneasy with its close ties to Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela's national oil company.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez attacked President Bush repeatedly in a recent speech to the United Nations, calling him "the devil" and a dangerous imperialist.

Based in Houston, Texas, Citgo has provided gas to 7-Eleven for two decades. So when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez crudely condemned President Bush on the floor of the United Nations last week, 7-Eleven drew a pretty big gulp.

The company said in a statement, "Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership."

7-Eleven's supply switch was actually in the works long before President Chavez spoke last week. The company sought bids for a new supplier of gasoline in October of 2004, and lined up at least one replacement more than a month ago.

7-Eleven notes that all of its new gasoline suppliers will be U.S. companies.

Even as it severed ties to the oil company, 7-Eleven reminded customers that Citgo has some 4,000 employees in the United States. The company says a boycott of Citgo would be misdirected, hurting American employees with no real connection to Venezuela.

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