Nearly seven thousand head of cattle
Por Daniel Benítez (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — “Where are the cows?” This is the question the herders, authorities and police of Villa Clara are asking following a cattle recount conducted at agricultural and livestock cooperatives and State farms that came 6,934 animals short.
The investigation was conducted at 10 different farms, from November 2013 to the present. According a report published by Juventud Rebelde, the greatest numbers of missing cattle were in the municipalities of Manicaragua, Encrucijada and Sagua la Grande.
According to information offered by Pedro Yera, main expert at the Department for Livestock Registry, the loss of such a high number of heads of bovine cattle is owed, among other things, to the lack of control at these entities, which fail to conduct a monthly animal count, as established. In addition, the companies implicated invoke other reasons, such as unreported deaths and even statistical errors.
What’s certain is that, to date, there are no clues as to the whereabouts of the cows, though the journalist is optimistic and believes that some may appear in coming days.
The possibility that many heads of cattle may have been stolen and slaughtered illegally has not been discarded.
Lack of Control Mechanisms
“Whether the number of missing cows is larger or smaller, what no one can refute while we wait for the results of an investigation aimed at determining the specific causes of this and those responsible, is that control mechanisms are lacking,” the reporter pointed out.
Though it is not yet known whether the cows reported as missing include these, in September of this year the Ministry of the Interior in the province reported that, in the first 8 months of 2014, a total of 1,188 heads of bovine cattle were stolen and slaughtered, a figure which gives Villa Clara the third highest incidence of this crime in the country.
At the time, Vanguardia, the local Santa Clara newspaper, explained that, in most cases, the culprits remained unidentified and that 88 percent of the cattle belonged to the non-State sector.
Now, however, the provincial newspaper appears oblivious to these facts, as, this past weekend, it praised the cattle feeding campaign in the region, saying it has “brighter prospects than in previous periods” in terms of “ensuring the nutritive values required by animals at State farms.”
In Cuba, where beef is a nearly inaccessible privilege for the majority of the population, people tend to buy and sell the meat on the black market, and any news about the appearance or disappearance of beef cattle is concealed. It will therefore be very difficult for authorities to find the missing cattle, if they are still alive.