Zoosadism in Cuba: Something Normal?

Veronica Vega

Flyers posted by the animal protectors.

HAVANA TIMES – It’s a well-known fact that serial killers start out by experimenting their barbaric acts on animals, domestic animals a lot of the time.

Astonishingly, the danger of this psychological profile hasn’t been argument enough for zoosadism to be criminalized in our country.

Decisive proof of this has been people’s silence when collecting signatures in protest of the puppy burned alive in Manzanillo in May 2017, and now the release of dog rapist and torturer Ruben Marrero Pernas, who uploaded videos and photos onto an underground network of zoophiles, Beast Forum. 

A group of animal defenders met in the Monterrey neighborhood in San Miguel de Padron on Saturday January 19th. This is the park and WIFI hotspot where this sadistic character normally sits to connect up to the Internet, walking scot free. With a shortage of official reports, it isn’t known whether his trial is still pending and, more importantly, whether he continues to perpetrate these crimes.

The call for this gathering of animal defenders came from the ATAC (Supporting and Moving Stray Animals) project, mostly made up of young people who provide parasite treatment for stray dogs or dogs brought by their owners. The objective? Make it clear that there are people in Cuba who are outraged by these events.

The creatures that he abused continue to be in the same helpless state. There isn’t a single law in their favor, and animal rape or abuse isn’t a particularly scandalous issue in Cuban society.

It’s “normal” in rural communities for men to rape young goats, pigs, chickens. It’s a kind of open secret, a salacious and consensual bit of mischief. Animals rely on human beings to defend their rights. That’s why Jeannette Ryder, a foreign philanthropist who defended the defenseless on this island, used to say: “We speak for those who don’t have a voice of their own.”

Widespread practice of the Yoruba religion, under the pretext of bringing “health and prosperity” (!!) has legitimized animal sacrifices of pigeons, fowl, young goats, rams… without the slightest bit of concern for their suffering. Their mutilated bodies are put on display in our streets, parks, beaches, in the plain sight of children, as archetypes of barbarism.

This is why the reaction of Ruben Marrero’s neighbors doesn’t come as a surprise, who have a mostly passive, indifferent or complicit attitude. One of them remarked: “They really went after him. I thought it was for something else.”

That is to say, raping and torturing dogs isn’t a serious matter. In short, according to somebody else, “he’s been doing this” (sadistic acts with animals) “ever since he was a child.” Somebody claimed that the criminal’s mother is sick and, ashamed of her son’s acts, avoids going outside.

The Monterrey neighborhood is full of houses surrounded by gardens, with dogs inside nearly every fence, yet its inhabitants prefer to ignore the murderer. Somebody said that they had seen him pass by recently, “heading towards the hill, with a yellow-colored dog.”

“Poor animal,” everyone in the group said.

The hill is a green space where a dirty river runs, and we saw the swollen corpse of a dog with its paws tied together. Who was responsible? Standing in front of this polluted landscape, full of a build-up of waste and humans’ sordid indifference, you feel like anyone could be responsible.

However, the parasite treatment campaign did raise eyebrows. First, a policeman came along and then a government representative. Both of them made it clear that these kinds of actions couldn’t be repeated without an official license. Posters against animal abuse, put up on trees and the backs of benches, mysteriously disappeared.

According to the policeman, somebody had phoned to report the presence of a group of activists. The contrast in this swift response after finding out about this charitable activity and its censorship was really telling, yet, how many animals have had to suffer and die at Ruben Marrero’s hands before this case came to light? By the way, official media hasn’t covered this news.

Sitting on a bench and watching everything, two men nobody knew, who weren’t using the Wi-Fi internet either, reminded us that protesting, even if it were to protest the impunity of a murderer, could work against us.

It doesn’t matter if the people protesting are citizens doing the right thing. It doesn’t matter whether the protest is trying to keep the majority safe.

Once again, reality has proven that power here in Cuba doesn’t work in favor of justice. It only works in the favor of those who defend this power, or don’t question it. Every protest can be politicized and distorted.

The group of animal defenders is made up of groups which have been created in response to the uncontrolled births of dogs and cats, to their visible agony; to the shame that this implies for a society that claims to be civilized; to the awful image we give tourists.

We work out of love and with hardly any resources. We need to become established, not allow ourselves to be intimidated, confused or divided.

We urgently need to defend not only animal rights, but the right of every Cuban to improve our surroundings, for compassion to be validated as an example for future generations, for the rape, torture and mutilation of a living being to be criminalized.

We can’t make any moral headway if we ignore something as basic as this.

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Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

Veronica Vega has 178 posts and counting. See all posts by Veronica Vega

2 thoughts on “Zoosadism in Cuba: Something Normal?

  • For over 20 years in the U.S. I directed secure residential treatment programs for violent juvenile offenders. One of those programs focused exclusively on juveniles who had raped strangers, and, much to my surprise, in that program a judge placed a youth who had been adjudicated for raping a dog. Unprepared for that placement, I spent hours reading any research I could find about sex with animals and bestiality.

    At that time, much attention was given to a triad assumed to predict violent and aggressive behaviors. That triad was childhood: 1) bedwetting; 2) fire setting; and, 3) cruelty to animals. Some people still believe that triad predicts violence but, generally, today that triad is considered more as evidence of severe childhood abuse. Such certainly was the case with many youths placed in my programs.

    Aggressive and violent behaviors are very complex and have varied origins, which has been very frustrating for programs working with violent and aggressive people. Regretfully, the one apparent universal truth is that the best predictor of any future behavior, including violent and aggressive behavior, is past behavior. Such is strong justification for not ignoring unacceptable behaviors.

    My research regarding sexual abuse of animals lead me in many directions. Out of curiosity, I attempted to research official or legal attitudes regarding sex with animals, primarily because in one of my programs was a juvenile offender whose father was incarcerated as a result of sexually assaulting a cow.

    I cannot reference my findings from years ago but I found the following Wikipedia article that closely parallels what I found: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_bestiality_by_country_or_territory.

    If you look in that article at the world map and list of policies by country, you may be surprised by the variety of world attitudes. In fact, you will note some U.S. states still do not have laws against sex with animals or bestiality. After all these years I remain mystified by related passive or dismissive attitudes. The problem is pervasive far beyond Cuba.

    From my years of experiences working to reduce violent and aggressive behaviors, I am convinced all cultures or, at least, communities must develop comprehensive, systematic responses to all forms of aggression and violence. Tolerance of violence and aggression at any level is unacceptable and counter-productive. Tolerance and acceptance of any form of violence and aggression only serves to perpetuate and potentially escalate related problems.

    I have traveled to Cuba many times and visited every province. From my visits I have developed many close relationships with individuals I consider on the level of family or kindred spirit. As a result, I often have told people outside Cuba that some of the most civilized individuals I have met during my life are in Cuba.

    Therefore, it does disturb me to learn of recent increased reports of violence in Cuba, particularly against females. With individuals like you focusing attention on violence, perhaps it will be possible for Cuba or, at least, Cuban communities to proffer comprehensive, systematic responses to all forms of violence, including violence against animals. The encouraging news is that you have empirical evidence regarding what NOT to do, i.e., the U.S. is a powerful example of how not to address violence and aggression.

    I ardently follow your articles and am without doubt about your dedication to and love for the people of Cuba. I encourage you to continue to address the more difficult issues of your culture. I will continue to follow you with great interest.

  • Cuba has an amicable record of producing doctors that alleviate human suffering around the world. Why can’t it produce veterinary doctors to serve the animals of Cuba?

    Spaying and neutering stray dogs and cats should be a simple municipal function. Psychological studies have shown that people who abuse animals will at some point also abuse another human. In the most extreme form this expresses itself as serial murder.

    I’m happy to hear that you are part of a concerned group that recognizes that the compassion to prevent animal suffering is no different than compassion to end human suffering. The heart makes no distinction and neither should the mind.

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