By Nataly Angulo in Zulia.
Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.
Not too long ago, Venezuela produced 3.5 million oil barrels a day. Now, with production at around 400,000 b/d, retirees from state oil company PDVSA want the benefits they saved during their working life.
In Maracaibo, the capital of Zulia state, which was once the site for 100% of Venezuelan oil production, retirees shut down main thoroughfares after the $150 promised by the Nicolas Maduro regime for December 15 failed to arrive. And it is not the first time.
Some 96% of Venezuelans live in poverty, according to the latest ENCOVI living conditions survey taken by public and private universities in the country. Seniors live in their flesh how the health-care system imploded under Maduro, and they must cover their myriad medical expenses themselves.
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A group of at least 60 pensioners and survivors blocked near the center of Maracaibo, right in front of PDVSA’s headquarters Monday morning. No industry representatives came to talk to them.
“We demand they pay what they owe us from the Pension Fund. They promised to pay us 150 dollars last December 15, as an advance on the debt, and they did not comply”, said the national representative of the Association of Retired People from the Oil Industry -Ajip-, Douglas Pereira, who led the demonstration.
The retirees, who carried Venezuelan flags, demanded that PDVSA return their health insurance benefits and assist them with their medical expenses.
“We are in an extreme poverty situation. We are the most mistreated. We worked for years in the national oil industry, and it cannot be that they took us to a minimum pension. That is why we got the pension fund, to be at home resting and not here demanding what is ours”, added Pereira.
Request 30,000 for each pensioner
The representative of Ajip said Petroleos de Venezuela owes each pensioner and retiree about $30,000.
The demonstrators said that in 2021 they keep the protest in the streets until they get paid their debts, the restoration of their medical services and food benefits, and their pensions increased.