In this Dec. 10, 2018 photo, Nieves Ribullen speaks during a interview at his home in Punto Fijo, Venezuela. Ribullen, a Venezuelan oil worker sick of struggling to get by as his country falls apart, is betting it all on far-away job in Kurdistan to give his family a better life.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2002 file photo, a striking oil worker holds a Venezuelan flag as he protests with other strikers outside administrative offices of Petroleos de Venezuela, SA, or PDVSA, in Maracaibo in western Venezuela, on the eighth day of a nationwide general strike called by the opposition. Venezuela’s oil workers began leaving in 2003, shortly after then President Hugo Chavez fired thousands of them for launching a strike that paralyzed output. The oil workers accused Chavez of riding roughshod over the nation’s democratic institutions, while Chavez said the picketers were plotting a coup. (AP Photo/Ana Maria Otero, File)
PUNTO FIJO, Venezuela – Nieves Ribullen, a Venezuelan oil worker sick of struggling to get by as his country falls apart, is betting it all on far-away Kurdistan to give his family a better life.
Over the years he’s watched dozens of co-workers abandon poverty wages and dangerous working conditions at the rundown complex of refineries in Venezuela’s Punto Fijo for jobs in far-flung places like Kuwait, Angola and Chile.
Now it’s his turn. Leaving his wife and three children behind, he’ll soon ship out to Kurdistan, where he expects to earn more than $3,500 a month — a fortune compared to the less than $20 he brings home monthly in Venezuela.
“I only earn enough to buy a kilo (2 pounds) of meat and one chicken each month,” Ribullen said. “We’re in chaos.”