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After workers from state-run Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) went on strike in 2003, about half the workforce was fired by then Venezuela Hugo Chávez.

Nearly 18,000 PDVSA got their pink slips.

They were also barred from working for any company that did business with PDVSA, according to a report by the Economist.

“Around 80% of the staff at Intevep, PDVSA’s research arm, are thought to have joined the strike. At the stroke of a pen, Venezuela lost its oil intelligentsia,” the Economist said.

PDVSA has never been the same.

“The firm’s oil production has since stagnated, despite a big run-up in prices,” the report said.

Not only has production suffered. So has safety.

“The Centre for Energy Orientation, a Venezuelan NGO, says the number of incapacitating injuries due to accidents at PDVSA rose from 1.8 per million man-hours in 2002 to 6.2 in 2012,” the Economist said.

That’s three times more injuries than at Mexico’s state-run Pemex.

What happened to the fired workers.

Most went overseas.

The Economist said there were 465 Venezuelans in Alberta, Canada in 2001 but by 2011 the number jumped to 3,860.

Venezuelans are getting the credit for helping lift Colombia’s oil output from 527,000 barrels a day (b/d) in 2005 to around 1 million bpd now.