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Venezuela oil worker despair in Maracaibo

Built in the 1960s, at the back of Venezuelan oil rich, the bridge extends over the inlet to the giant Maracaibo lake. It is the kind of impressive infrastructure project that resource-rich countries like to showcase. But as the bridge slopes down to the other side, it leads back to the reality of Venezuela's economic descent.

After the bridge puts cars up for fuel on both sides of the road, Cabimas, an oil town of about 300,000 people approaches.

Cabimas carries a certain mystery in Venezuela. The speed of the Venezuelan thick, crude crude oil began here in 1922, with the launch of Los Barroso's oil well. In historical pictures, men are in the bands in front of the well, a spray of black gold flowing from the ground behind them.

Today, overgrown grass has invaded playgrounds for oil worker associations. Crowds are waiting outside the bank for their daily cash limit ̵

1; normally about 6,000 bolivars per day, which is less than two US dollars.

Soldiers protect the largest pharmacy in the city. The second largest pharmacy was plundered last week by a mobile-seeking medicine and basic household items, managers say.

"Nothing works anymore"

A group of oil workers with state oil company PDVSA want to take CNN to look at the nearby Salina oil field.

"Populism ended all this. See here! Nothing works anymore," says Hector Berti, 48, referring to the aging oil infrastructure on the glass-like lake "The government completely stopped us."

Oil workers say the money is meant to maintaining PDVSA's equipment ended up elsewhere. They point to the thick layer of polluting oil sludge covering the coastline of evidence of neglect.

  Oil sludge spots the entire coast of the Maracaibo lake.

Subsequent Venezuelan regimes have dropped into the huge profit of PDVSA, which owns American refiners Citgo, to fund socialist programs in the country. But the United States has also accused Venezuelan leaders of using the oil company to enrich their friends and family. Transparency internationally ranked Venezuela 160 out of 180 countries in its corruption index by definition by 2018.

President Nicolas Maduro has opposed the US conspiracy to undermine Venezuela and blamed foreign terrorist attacks for infrastructure failures as a power outage.

"This is the reason for the coup. They do not want us to get better. They sabotage us and try to destroy the economic system," he says.

None of this seemed to mean as much when the oil price was high. as workers call "the black year": 2014, when oil prices began to fall, from about $ 107 a barrel in June 2014, oil prices fell to about $ 26 a barrel in February 2016.

New rigid US sanctions mean that Venezuelan oil also has fewer buyers now.In March, Venezuela exported zero barrel to the US, once its biggest customer.

After decades working for the company Berti says he was kicked a few days ago by the company to speak out. who asked to be anonymous for fear of reprisals – could be retrieved by Venezuelan intelligence to talk to journalists.

"Mathematics is just not possible"

Venezuelan oak onomi was due to oil, the falling prices, and the country's subsequent hyperinflation, harming both current and former PDVSA employees.

Berti has an insulin dispenser and heart medication. He says he must get it from an aid organization across the border in Colombia.

All men agree that they cannot live on their pay in Venezuela. They say their salaries are now worth about seven US dollars a month. "Mathematics is just not possible," one says. A bag of rice costs about 4,900 Bolivares, or just over a dollar to current exchange rates.

  Current and former workers in the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA protest outside Las Salina's oil field.

Households in Venezuela receive CLAP, the Local Supply and Production Committee, a state edition of heavily subsidized basic goods given to Venezuelan families in a small carton. But Venezuelans say it's not close enough.

Outside the entrance to Salinas, several retired oil workers protest. They say that inflation and corruption have made their pensions virtually useless. Many hold their corporate IDs over the decades they gave to the job.

A protester, Africano Nixon, has taken dog food with him, which he says is the only food he can afford.

Rodolfo Hernandez, 60, strapped with yellow tape to a makeshift crucifix made of an ironing board and a plywood. He worked for PDVSA for 37 years, he says, and neither he nor his co-workers can afford important drugs. Their pensions are about five dollars a month.

"I'm crucified because many of my colleagues have died. And we don't want to suffer the same fate," he says.

  Having dedicated most of his life to the Venezuelan oil industry Rodolfo Hernandez says neither he nor his colleagues can afford the drugs they need.

Hernandez is not angry at the government running PDVSA; he does not want the government's challenged president Nicolas Maduro to be thrown back. He says he only wants enough money to survive. Sufficiently suitable for a man who helped build the country. Many of the workers seem to share that feeling.

"We are not guerrillas," one said.

PDVSA did not answer questions from CNN about labor complaints and benefits for current and former employees.

"I want America to take out Maduro"

The oil industry's implosion hits Venezuelans in both large and small ways. We met Hinginio Acosta, 51, who ran his red truck in a fuel line in Cabima's city. With a dirty smirk, handyman said, "I want America to take out Maduro to get him out of here. He steals from people. He takes food from us."

  Hinginio Acosta has shot his truck through a line of cars waiting three hours to fill his tank at a gas station in Cabimas.

During sporadic nationwide blackouts in March, hundreds of residents of Maracaibo went on a looting battle and destroyed many companies after days of no power. They stayed for two days in the Brisas del Norte hotel – even ripped out the carpets. The hotel managers say no one from the government has come to see the damage.

  Once a thriving city, Maracaibo is a shadow of its former self.

"Eighty percent of our city's operations are now closed," said Carlos Dickson Barbera, former head of the Chamber of Commerce of the State.

And when the sun sets, the lights of this once proud city go out, the result of government-imposed energy treatment. As we drive around neighborhoods and business districts, only flickering of our car's light breaks through the shade.

Families shelter inside.

Barbera thinks a second about how to describe it.

"It's like" The Walking Dead, "he says.

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