It seems that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s generosity knows no bounds.
Last week at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, the leftist leader gave President Obama a book called “The Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galeano. But the text, which shot up the Amazon sales charts afterward, was a mere pittance compared with another, less widely reported gift.
Chavez gave Obama an island.
Yes, an island.
The Venezuelan government formally donated Petty’s Island, a 528-acre plot of land located in the Delaware River in New Jersey, back to the US, the BBC reports. Venezuela’s state-run energy company purchased the island in 1990 to use as a refining center and fuel storage location. The energy company, PDVSA, owns Citgo oil.
Petty’s Island is a highly coveted piece of property among American real-estate developers who are salivating at the opportunity to market island-living in the Garden State, and install golf courses, hotels and casinos there. But environmental groups oppose development because the island has unique wildlife that needs to be protected.
Chavez announced the donation at the Summit of the Americas as a way to nurture the renewed spirit of cooperation between the two countries. He said that the island was being returned to the US for use in environmental conservation projects.
The island does play a semi-important role in American history. The island, originally named Shackamaxon Island is mentioned in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography as the place where his boat landed before he entered the city of Philadelphia, which is nearby. It is also thought to be the place where the infamous Captain Blackbeard docked his ship when visiting Philly.