Venezuela is rich in oil. It has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But it is arguably precisely this wealth that is also at the root of many of its economic problems. The drop in oil prices has not just devastated the Venezuelan economy, it’s causing an environmental crisis as well. An oil spill that happened in May still covers the shoreline of Lake Maracaibo. The oil wells have been abandoned, and production has slowed to a 13 year low. Which means little is being done to stop oil spills. Fishing is the main source of income for many people who live on the shores of the lake. The constant oil spills and leaks is damaging their livelihood, and 15,000 barrels of oil have spilled into the lake in the last two months alone. Fishermen resort to smuggling fish to sell in Colombia to earn enough to feed their families. Maracaibo is the second largest city of Venezuela and the lake contains one of the largest reserves of oil in the world. With its two million inhabitants, the city was built by the US at the start of the 20th century to help expand the oil industry. Up until 2013, Maracaibo was a rich city.
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