Best columns: International
Maduro has reduced us to beggars
Carolina Jaimes Branger
It’s heartbreaking to see middle-class Venezuelans begging for food, said Carolina Jaimes Branger. I went to the grocery last week for the first time in nearly a month, and “the entire experience was an agony.” Of course, there was “no cornmeal, no flour, no milk, no coffee.” Still, there were supplies to be had—at outrageous cost. Hyperinflation has sent prices soaring. A bottle of wine marked 25,000 bolivars (about $2,450) a few weeks ago now costs five times as much. Even if I could afford it, how could I justify spending such a sum “when there are people rooting through the dumpsters outside for food?” President Nicolás Maduro blames the crisis on the supposed economic war the U.S. is waging against us, but we all know that “exists only in his feverish imagination.” There is no Cuban-style blockade here preventing goods from entering our oil-rich country, only sanctions against individual members of Maduro’s administration. As I was about to leave the market, I was approached by a well-dressed, polite, but very thin gentleman holding a packet of bread and cheese. “I’m very sorry, ma’am,” he said. “But I need help paying for this.” I was overwhelmed, with sympathy for him and with fury at the government that let this happen. “No one in Venezuela should go hungry.”
Why we deserve a footy holiday
The Sydney Morning Herald
Residents of the Australian state of Victoria got a day off last week, said Sam Duncan, but all we did was gripe about it. Grand Final Friday, the day before the Australian Football League’s Grand Final match, was declared a public holiday two years ago. People still aren’t used to it and seem to “feel uncomfortable about doing nothing.” Pundits told us we were slackers, and business leaders moaned the holiday would cost the economy nearly $1 billion. With all that negativity, it’s no wonder polls suggest that most Victorians want the holiday either “moved or dumped.” Why can’t we just relax and enjoy the festivities? Australians work long hours, and children are more plugged in to their devices than ever. We need a holiday where we can spend time together, strengthen family bonds, and give the kids happy memories. And there’s nothing better for bringing families together than Australian Rules football, in which some of the world’s best athletes kick and run an oblong ball across a massive field and take down rival players with crunching tackles. With a day off, everyone can watch the Melbourne parade on the eve of the big match, decked out in team colors. Footy is “one of the most culturally significant pastimes of our state.” We deserve a day to celebrate it.