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Venezuelan fishermen live, work in oil industry wasteland

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Fisherman Antonio Tello, left, poses for a portrait with his brother after harvesting crabs in oil-contaminated Lake Maracaibo in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 11, 2019. – AP Photo / Rodrigo Abd

Reporter Scott Smith, Caracas; photographer Rodrigo Abd, Lima, Peru; and video journalist Ricardo Nunes, Caracas, teamed up for a beautifully shot all-formats package that captures the collapse of Venezuela’s once-prosperous oil industry through fishermen and women who scratch out an existence on the blackened, sticky shores of Lake Maracaibo. People cast their nets and lines in waters fouled by black gunk seeping from broken rigs that once fueled the country’s wealth. Abd spent several days in the villages of Cabimas, documenting the home life and workday of the fishers. He returned with a team including Smith and Nunes. They watched the fishermen struggle with oily nets, and interviewed women who scrub oil from fish and crabs before eating or selling them. On his second trip to Cabimas, Abd brought a 19th century-style box camera to make black and white portraits of the fishermen and industrial decay around them. The package played widely on web sites including the Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, MSN and Yahoo.

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