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AP photographer wins RFK Journalism Award for Venezuela coverage

, by Patrick Maks

Gripping images showing the scope and impact of Venezuela’s political crisis earned AP photojournalist Rodrigo Abd the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for international photography on Thursday.

Zaida Bravo, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and is malnourished, waits for dinner on her dirty mattress in her one-room living quarters in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Nov. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In a yearlong series of photos, Abd, a senior photographer based in Lima, Peru, captured the country’s collapse from the ground up, developing trust with residents to tell the stories of how ordinary Venezuelans are suffering.

AP photographer Rodrigo Abd. (AP Photo)

In Maracaibo, once the center of Venezuela’s booming oil industry, Abd’s photos showed how locals struggle to get by without electricity, drinking water or reliable sources of food, all while, trying to bury loved ones and protect them from gravediggers.

Abd spent 18 days living with a crab fisherman and his family to depict their fight for survival as leaky underwater oil pipelines devastated their catch. 

He similarly embedded in the slums of Caracas, at great personal risk, spending long days creating a rapport with ruthless gunmen, gangsters who opened up to him and described being raised in the crime-filled streets of the country’s capital.

Abd was part of the AP team that won a 2019 RFK Journalism Award for coverage of U.S. immigration policies under President Donald Trump.

A full list of this year’s RFK Journalism Award winners can be found here.

Fisherman Antonio Tello jokes around with his daughter, Genesis Tello, as they clean oil off of crabs he caught in Lake Maracaibo on Punta Gorda beach in Cabimas, Venezuela, July 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)