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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."