Best columns: International
Keeping up the pressure on Maduro
Venezuelans have shown the world that they revere democracy, said Freddy Marcano. The nonbinding referendum held here last week on President Nicolás Maduro’s plan to change the constitution and give himself more power was not carried out by the government, with government resources. It was entirely a volunteer affair, organized hastily. Yet still we managed to get more than 7 million people to turn out, over one-third of the electorate, and 98 percent of them voted against Maduro’s scheme. Seven million defiant Venezuelans were “not afraid to write their names and give their fingerprints, to express their opinion clearly and convincingly.” It was extraordinary—but it was still not enough. A significant number of opposition supporters did not show up at the improvised polling sites. They “hate the dictatorship, but stayed at home.” Now those brave citizens who did vote must go forth and talk to their neighbors who did not. They need to “dig into their motivations and expectations” and remind them of their patriotic duty to uphold democracy. In the wake of the referendum, the opposition has momentum, but that can easily be squandered. Maduro plans to hold elections on July 30 for the new constituent assembly that will rewrite the constitution. “We must continue the pressure on the street in a peaceful way” and rally the world to our cause.
Asado, it’s what’s for dinner
The government is taking a big risk telling meatloving Argentinians to try going vegan, said Esteban Fuentes. No weekend is complete here without an asado, a get-together where meat is slowcooked over open flames. The average Argentinian eats an incredible 120 pounds of beef a year—only Uruguayans consume more. Yet last month, Fernando de Andreis, a top aide to President Mauricio Macri, announced a Meatless Mondays initiative, saying that henceforth the presidential palace would go vegan once a week. No meat, no chicken or fish, no milk or eggs, not even butter would be served in the cafeteria. “All employees and officials of the House, including the president, will eat this healthy menu every Monday,” he said. Andreis encouraged other Argentinians to follow suit, saying, “It’s good for the planet.” The reaction from Argentina’s powerful meat industry has been mixed. Some officials acknowledged that more vegetables in their diet wouldn’t hurt, but the head of the Argentine Beef Promotion Institute declared it was “weird to be told what to eat.” The Ministry of Agroindustry quickly clarified that the government was not against eating meat six days a week. So while the president may go meatless, it’s far from clear the country will follow.