HAVANA TIMES — When I signed up to the initiative organized by CeDA (Cubans in Defense of Animals), to help out collecting signatures so that animal abuse becomes a crime, I was surprised by people’s promptness to jot down their personal details on paper, on the spot and without any doubts.
Strangers I stopped on the street, or approached in the evening at their work places.
When they found out about the puppy burned alive in Manzanillo incident, they were horrified. They asked themselves why this extremely cruel act took place. Filming it and posting it, in a display of supreme indolence.
This verified two things for me:
- That we aren’t such an uncivilized country in spite of the deficient legal framework.
- That it is possible to mobilize people for social causes in spite of apparent and widespread apathy.
A neighbor of mine, a primary school teacher, told me that she found out about another barbaric act two days after signing that petition. A man threw a live kitten to his fighting dog. The beast tore it from limb to limb in front of children who were crying, women who begged him to have pity on the small animal. An old woman was physically affected by the nervous reaction she had witnessing this atrocious scene. Neighbors insulted the man, some even threatened to kill the dog at the slightest chance they got.
This teacher was asking: Can’t we do something? The event took place in building no. 707, in zone 11 in Alamar, down the street from the Jose Marti primary school. Several neighbors want to report the incident.
She reproached them for not going to the police. Reporting what? I asked. She answered: I don’t know, even if it was just a public scandal.
I lamented the fact that nobody had the stomach (the stomach I myself don’t have) to film the crime with their mobile phone. Just so that it is put on the record and this individual can’t then go about denying the fact that he’s the one responsible.
Some people are spreading deliberate public acts of cruelty, thereby communicating the fact that they are very conscious about their impunity. This is head-on mockery of logic, of human sensibilities, and our legal system.
In Cuba, the opinion that the law (except for very serious crimes) can be sidestepped via bribes and “good contacts” is normally given sustenance. For example, people know that constructions attached to the first floor of housing blocks are illegal, and even though the government has warned that they will be knocked down, the fact that they keep on multiplying in number proves the little faith people have in these measures actually being implemented.
It’s an attack on the law that everyone believes they can build in a public space, arbitrarily. And it’s true a lot of the time, the aesthetic result is depressing because of a lack of resources.
However, if conscious impunity for sadistic acts continues to increase, it will destroy the most basic pillars of our civilization. The results will be horrifying. I found many people who shared this concern among those who signed the CeDA petition.
What differences us from beasts (even more so than our intellect), what really makes us potentially more superior than any other species, is our compassion.
Personally, I have no doubt that there are universal laws that continue to operate in spite of all the flaws in the systems designed by man. I have met abusers and sadists, who have had a miserable life and death. It’s the mathematical sum of the use of their personal freedom.
However, we have the ability to tell right from wrong. We want to build a society where technological progress is given priority, where citizens are self-sufficient and responsible. Every generation dreams of giving their children a safe world.
This dream is still possible in Cuba, while cruelty continues to shock the large majority. We don’t have to expect degeneration to bring about full-blown social cancer.