drops Citgo, denies political angle
7-Eleven Inc. said on Wednesday the war of words between Venezuela's leftist government and the Bush administration had no part in its decision to drop gasoline supplier Citgo Petroleum Corp., which is owned by Venezuela's state oil company.
The contract expires on Sept. 30, 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris said, and the decision was made long before Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called U.S. President George W. Bush "the devil" last week.
"People are making it out to be more than it is," Chabris told Reuters.
The comments came after the company said at the time of the initial announcement, "Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concerns over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez."
7-Eleven said in a statement it was switching to its own branded gasoline at more than 2,100 company-owned and franchised U.S. stores. Citgo has been 7-Eleven's gasoline supplier for 20 years.
7-Eleven had also warned against boycotts of Citgo because of its employment of 4,000 people in the United States and its role as a supplier of motor fuels to 14,000 gasoline stations.
"Americans with no substantive connection to Venezuela would be economically harmed by boycotts," 7-Eleven said.
Because of the ongoing war of words between Chávez and the Bush administration, Citgo has been the subject of at least one boycott.
The conservative U.S. religious group American Family Association launched a boycott of Citgo in February.
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