By Irina Echarry
HAVANA TIMES – Animal protection activists and defenders came together on Saturday Jan. 19th, in San Miguel del Padron on the outskirts of Havana, to protest against zoosadism.
The Supporting and Moving Stray Animals group organized a free parasite treatment campaign in a park in the Monterrey neighborhood.
Over 20 people came to help catch stray animals, put up posters, vaccinate or give treatment baths to those animals in need, as well as to talk to neighbors about animal abuse and raise awareness among the population.
Local authorities approached us to find out what was going on and the vice-president of the municipal government ordered that this activity be suspended immediately because we didn’t have authorization. The campaign was originally intended to last three weeks.
Authorization must be directly sought with the government body and not with the Ministry of Public Health, even though the latter has a Hygiene and Epidemiology Department with clearly defined duties such as administering rabies vaccines and tackling contagious diseases.
The park used for this campaign was chosen because of its proximity to the home of Ruben Marrero Pernas, the zoosadist who was discovered months ago and removed from the Cuban Neuroscience Center where he worked.
After being reported, he was arrested and taken away from his dogs, who he tortured and raped. However, in spite of documentary evidence published online, Marrero Pernas was released, and neighbors claim that he is still in contact with other dogs.
Activists have been demanding an Animal Protection Act here in Cuba for many years now. In 1988, Aniplant (the only legal protection organization in Cuba) proposed a draft bill, which it has done on three repeated occasions, and it has never received the answer they long for.
More and more independent groups are springing up who are pressing for this Act and they are collecting signatures to present them to Parliament.
In the recent neighborhood discussion about the new draft Constitution, many voices were raised in favor of an article being included that explicitly records that the State recognizes animals as beings who feel and consider any abuse against them to be a criminal act. These opinions were disregarded.