Reverend Jesse Jackson is working in the Louisiana region with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Last week, Rev. Jackson and a Rainbow/PUSH delegation visited Venezuela, and are grateful for the relief aid offered by President Hugo Chavez. Below is Rev. Jackson's statement on the tragedy.

CHICAGO- The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition released the following statement regarding the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina:

All of us share the pain of those hit so hard by Hurricane Katrina. All of us will do what we can to help ease the burden of the families who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and even their towns and cities.

Even our amigos y amigas in Venezuela have generously offered their assistance. President Hugo Chavez himself told me in Caracas earlier this week, as we watched the flooding on television, that Venezuela would provide millions in aid, as a gesture of compassion from the people of Venezuela, to ease the pain and suffering of the victims of Katrina. We thank President Chavez and the Venezuelan people for their generosity.

Several questions remain unanswered. First, we note that the storms seem to be increasing in frequency and voracity. Are these storms sent by God alone? Or are they partly man-made? In other words, is global warming contributing to the frequency and harshness of these disasters? We must free our public scientific research from the grip of right-wing ideology and theology, in order to answer this question scientifically and protect our people.

Second, the levee breach demonstrates the flaws in our internal infrastructure. Homeland security means more than removing people's shoes at the airport. It means making sure that our levees, our dams, our bridges, our roads, our ports and rails are all safe. Unfortunately, the tax cuts for the rich and the billions wasted on an unnecessary war in Iraq have devastated our public infrastructure, forcing cuts at every level, including levee protection and maintenance.

Third, our National Guard troops must have wondered what they were doing in Baghdad while New Orleans was flooding. They were unable to help their fellow Americans because they are occupying a nation which did not have WMDs, which did not threaten us. Baghdad was invaded; Baton Rouge was abandoned. The lies that led us into Iraq have trapped us there, leaving us weaker in the face of threats and challenges at home.

Finally, we must note that too many of the poor and indigent, those without automobiles, those who cannot easily evacuate, those who do not have the discretionary cash for a week in a motel on short notice, or even for gas money, in these times of $3 per gallon gasoline, these poor were left to battle the water and face the storm alone. We had warning; but too many of our poorest citizens were not evacuated. This must not happen again.

We offer our prayers for the victims and their families. And we remind those who are in pain that after God sent the flood, he sent Noah a rainbow and a dove, as signs that peace and joy would come again in the morning.