HAVANA TIMES, Feb 28 — This isn’t the title of some tale that I made up, though the animals involved inevitably leave us a message, a lesson.
As I was passing by one of the corners at the Cuatro Caminos farmers market, a crowd caused me to stop for a moment. I wanted to try and see if they were having another caserolazo (pots and pans protest) over the food shortages and high prices there.
Although they weren’t, I could tell that the excitement had something to do with food, since the laughter and shouts united around the word “abuser!”
It turned out that a man was setting a huge snake on a little yellow chicken so that it could eat it alive. The chick was chirping frantically as it pressed up against the back of its small cage.
I turned my head, not wanting to see the reptile gorge itself on the little bird. I didn’t know what else to do.
A police officer watched from a corner not far from the group, but it seemed that he didn’t quite know what to do either. He confined himself to looking.
As I walked away — sad and disconcerted, especially because of the indifference of so many people before an act so explicitly sadistic — a host of ideas rushed into my mind.
I thought that perhaps if I had started shouting loudly…? No, that wouldn’t have done anything.
I probably would have taken for crazy, and would have served only to create additional disorder, giving the idle police officer a perfect justification to remove me from all the commotion, arrest me and then take me away.
The thin promoter of the show would have ended up cussing me out, because what he was collecting in his hat would be used for beans that same afternoon.
Should I have called an animal protection organization? I then laughed at that thought. The law is not very permissive with the few Havana environmental groups.
We know full well that they send the State Security even when a small group tries to clean up the Malecon seawall.
After a while I threw my hands up concluding that our laws don’t protect animals from a whole range of acts of persecution and abuse. Who doesn’t know that stray dogs — instead of being sought out, healed and turned over to families — are killed with bats?
The misery of more than a few, combined with the educational and cultural level of various sectors of the public — which is not as high as some would have us believe — end up in our faces in the form of these sinister spectacles.
These are shows that remind me that in this society, we ourselves live our lives assuming the roles of snakes or chicks.
It makes me wonder.
What will happen when the empowered green and striped snakes of today turn into the discounted chicks of tomorrow?
Judging by the indifference and the euphoria of the people at Cuatro Caminos who were looking at the little caged birds, maybe the chickens of tomorrow won’t have the slightest chance to defend themselves.