The Cuban crocodile is a species endemic to the island and one in danger of extinction. The adult ones are larrrrge and dangerous, with a mouth wide enough for the head of a Christian to easily fit.
Though crocodiles have inspired terror movies, the little ones are quite cute. And to watch them feeding is a delight, given the voraciousness they already show at that early age.
If you want to buy one it’s no problem. With a few dollars you can go to 13th and 6th Street in the Vedado neighborhood, and there in a little owner-operated store you can find a wide variety of tormented animals at your disposal, among them crocodiles.
At your pleasure you can pick out an iguana or a Cuban boa (a protected species), as well as a few mice or rabbits to feed them (or you can eat them yourself, since ultimately you’re the one who’s paid for them and therefore can do whatever you please with these creatures).
One day I visited the Environmental Agency, an entity of the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA), where I took advantage of this opportunity to find out if there’s any law that prohibits or regulates the sale of animals. However the officials there merely shrugged their shoulders and beat around the bush. It seemed that the mission of the Environmental Agency wasn’t exactly the protection of the environment, or maybe it just wasn’t my lucky day.
If a citizen decides to climb a mountain in Cuba that’s not reserved for tourism, it’s most likely that 24 hours won’t go by before they’ll be detained and made to leave that province or town. In this respect, CITMA and the forces of MININT (State security) are stellar.
But in that very center of the capital city, anyone can see animals suffering in the full view of everyone —including species under threat of extinction— either for sale or simply caged, like the sparrow hawks at 23rd and F Street, or dogs along Obispo Street.
Instead of protecting these cousins of ours, new laws make it legal for people to commit acts of cruelty against them. Among the private businesses that were recently authorized, one can obtain a license for the renting or selling of animals for religious purposes, though these often culminate in bloody sacrifices.
How can we struggle against this? If any ideas occur to anyone, they can send in a comment to this diary entry. Maybe we’ll be able to do something together.