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The 'precariousness' of life in Venezuela

Today you find cooking oil on the shelves, but tomorrow, who knows, writes a guest blogger.

By Juan Cristóbal NagelGuest blogger / July 17, 2012

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, Caracas Chronicles. The views expressed are the author's own.

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“The thing about life in Venezuela,” Katy said to me one evening, “is that everything is so …  precarious.”

It took me a while to digest what she meant exactly.

I was telling Katy the stories from my latest trip back home – family problems, issues without solution, how upside-down everything seems.

My wife, as you know, is not Venezuelan, so I always pay attention to how she sees my country – through her own eyes.


1. dependent on circumstances beyond one’s control; uncertain; unstable; insecure: a precarious livelihood.

2. dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another: He held a precarious tenure under an arbitrary administration.

3. exposed to or involving danger; dangerous; perilous; risky: the precarious life of an underseas diver.

4. having insufficient, little, or no foundation: a precarious assumption.


Today you’re alive, but tomorrow you might not be.

Today you’re free, but tomorrow, who knows.

Today you were on time for work. Tomorrow, who knows? You might be stuck in traffic for three hours.

Today you found cooking oil on the shelves. Tomorrow …

Today you own your house, your savings, your car. Tomorrow, you may wake up with nothing.

Today you are healthy. Tomorrow you may have dengue, or mal de Chagas.

Today you can travel overseas. It may be the last trip you’re allowed to make.

Right now, you’re reading this blog. In half an hour, the lights might go out.

I guess it helps explain why, in the midst of a precarious reality, one clings to family. Friends. Booze. Religion. Santería. Government handouts.

It helps to deal with the precariousness.

– Juan Nagel is a writer for Caracas Chronicles, the place for opposition-leaning-but-not-insane analysis of the Venezuelan political scene since 2002.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Latin America bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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