Marlon Bermúdez will sell his house, the result of three decades of work in the largest refinery in Venezuela to survive. Disappointed, he declared a hunger strike along with other retired oil workers who are demanding the savings they saved for his old age.
He and his companions demand dividends from a savings fund to which they allocated 3% of your monthly income for decades to ensure a “dignified old age”.
The situation of Marlon, 59 years old, reflects the limitations suffered by more than 37,000 retirees from Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), victims of the collapse of this state company plagued by multiple cases of corruption.
What they live is the antithesis of a time when oil workers earned high salaries that allowed a life of luxury, in addition to having unlimited health insurance and golden retirements.
Each retiree should receive about US$660 each month from the interest of the retirement fund where they contributed, but they only receive US$180.
“That money is ours, we are not a burden, our payment has nothing to do with oil production, it was money that we saved”Bermúdez protests, alluding to the low supply of the Venezuelan industry, which went from three million barrels per day 10 years ago to around 700,000 today.
Rodolfo Hernández, 67, joined the hunger strike with the hope of enjoying what he saved during the 37 years he worked in Zulia (west), a region where oil exploitation began more than a century ago in this country. Caribbean.
“It is destroyed”laments about the fate of a company that became among the five most important oil companies in the world.
Julio Blanco, former captain of oil tankers, reported that PDVSA officials agreed to meet with them after a hunger strike that they began on September 12 and maintained for 36 hours.
They resumed it on September 25, since “The negotiations were unsuccessful, because they allege that PDVSA does not have the money to pay us the earnings from our pension fund”he stressed.
“They tell us that there is no money and where did (Tareck) El Aissami steal so much money from? It is difficult to be told that there is no money when (…) there are people in prison because money has been stolen”says Bermúdez.
It refers to a scandal that ended with the resignation, last March, of the now former Minister of Petroleum, whose whereabouts have been unknown since then.
Senior officials, including a deputy, were detained in a “crusade” against corruption that ended with more than 50 arrests.
Since 2017, the Venezuelan justice system has initiated investigations in the sector with more than 200 detainees, including former oil ministers, Eulogio del Pino and Nelson Martínez, the latter dying in custody.
The retirement fund that Marlon and his colleagues are protesting did not escape corruption.
“It was looted, it was stolen, in 2014,” Iván Freites, an oil unionist in exile, told AFP.
Wilfredo Molina, 65 years old, retired in 2018 after 28 years in the industry, traveled more than 600 kilometers from Lagunillas, Zulia state (west), to join a hunger strike for the second time this month.
“We live badly”he describes lying in a hallway of the Central University of Venezuela, where they moved after security officials cordoned off the main administrative headquarters of PDVSA, where they had protested before.
“Giving away my house”
Retired by “PDVSA decision”Marlon Bermúdez, who worked at the Paraguaná Refining Complex (CRP), one of the largest in the world, regrets the deterioration in his quality of life.
“I have a good house that I bought thanks to my work and I am selling it almost for free because why do I have a big house if I can’t maintain it?”account.
Valued at US$40,000, he is auctioning it off at US$15,000. “I am selling it to buy a smaller house, so that I have money left to be able to live”he indicates.
A former admirer of the late former president Hugo Chávez, whom he saw several times in the CRP, Bermúdez implores for solutions.
“We are not traitors to the country, we are not terrorists or saboteurs, we are a group of PDVSA retirees who are demanding that the government give us what is ours and they took”
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