Fulbrighters in Argentina

Fulbrighters in Argentina

Monday, March 31, 2008

Where's the beef???

In case you don't keep up with the Argentine news, let me fill you in. For the past 3 weeks, the agricultural community has been on strike. From what I understand (and feel free to look into this on your own too), the government increased the taxes on agricultural exports. Apparently, this is most affecting the smaller and/or private farmers, who feel completely unrepresented and unnoticed by the government. So for the past 3 weeks, there have been road blocks on major roads throughout my province (Entre Rios) and other major cities in the country. The protestors refuse to let any agricultural products past the road blocks.

In other words, the supply of milk, chicken, and beef has been dwindling drasticly of late. And today, when I went to the grocery store, there was NOTHING. NO chicken, NO beef, NO milk. Not even milk products like yogurt. I have never seen so many completely empty shelves in my life. Let's just say, it's a good thing I like pasta!

But the whole experience of the strike has been interesting for me. First of all, I've never been in the middle of one before or had the effects of a protest or strike hit close to home (or maybe I should say "close to the fridge"). Second, over the past week, I've seen more and more businesses put up signs saying "Estamos con el campo" - basically "We're with the farmers." I've been attempting to read articles in La Nacion to understand exactly where the government and the farmers stand on the issues involved, but it's been difficult. Although my Spanish reading ability is relatively good (at least better than my speaking ability!), I'm facing a lot of agricultural and political terms that are completely new to me. Not to mention that I'm not very well versed in the basic politics of agriculture and taxes anyway.

I love that whether in the country or the city, all of the Argentines have an opinion about the issue. I would much rather see people debate their opinions than have no opinion at all. As long as they remain peaceful about it.

But for now, I'm just hording the carbs and praying that the heladerias don't run out of milk to make ice cream ;)

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