Cuba Allows Historic March Against Animal Abuse

A group of Cuban activists just made history, marching against animal abuse in a country that previously hasn’t allowed its citizens to march for much of anything.

Hundreds of animal lovers — many of whom brought their own companion animals — participated in a march on April 7 in Havana, calling for better treatment of animals.

According to Agencia EFE, the protestors shouted, “Law yes! Mistreatment no!” And they held signs with statements, such as, “Stop animal mistreatment. They also feel.”

Public communications student Beatriz Del Carmen Hidalgo-Gato Batista obtained the permit that allowed this march to occur, according to an Associated Press report. “It’s a historic event,” she said. And she’s not wrong. It’s extraordinary.

In Cuba, up to now, the only permissible marches and demonstrations have been those associated with the Communist Cuban government. Independent demonstrations are unusual, especially those that involve signs and placards.

“It’s unprecedented,” march co-organizer Alberto Gonzalez told the Associated Press. “This is going to mark a before and an after.” Gonzalez publishes the Ark, a Cuban online magazine about animals.

It’s rather amazing that the first officially sanctioned demonstration not driven by government concerns pertained to animal protection. But whether Cuba now will allow protests for other important issues, such as free speech and human rights, remains to be seen.

Organizers attribute the interest in this march to the fact that Cuba is now much more “connected” via the internet than it’s ever been. For example, 3G cellphone service first became available in Cuba in December 2018. Suddenly, the internet can be carried around in everyone’s back pocket.

“It’s incredible how activism has grown now that we have mobile devices and can connect with each other,” an unnamed member of the group Cubans for the Defense of Animals told Agencia EFE.

Organizers timed this march to coincide with Dog Day, an annual tribute by Cuban animal lovers to Jeannette Ryder, an American humanitarian and animal rights activist who lived in Havana. Ryder, who died in 1931, did extraordinary work — especially for the age in which she lived.

She founded the Society for the Protection of Children, Animals and Plants; opened her home to stray animals; created a dispensary for children; fed the homeless and women in prison; battled against the sale of children; and was a powerful voice against bullfighting.

Stories say Ryder’s beloved dog, Rinti, was faithful to her even after her death. Rinti reportedly stayed by her graveside every day, only leaving at night when the cemetery closed and he was shooed away.

He always returned, refusing food and water, until he too died. And in a rare exception for the cemetery, Rinti was buried at Ryder’s feet, forever to remain with his human friend. There’s now a sculpture at the cemetery commemorating them both.

Ryder’s tomb remains an iconic site for animal activists in Cuba, which is why April’s historic demonstration ended right there. Speeches called for the enactment of animal protection laws, which Cuba does not have.

“What I believe is that, if I live in this country I should try to fight for what I want in this country, and what I want is to help Cuban animals,” Grettel Montes de Oca Valdes, founder of Cubans in Defense of Animals, told the Associated Press. “I don’t think that we should stop speaking out because if we stop speaking out nothing happens. That method is useless.”

No matter how repressive a society is, brave souls will speak out for the animals. Cuba’s animal lovers are showing us they’re willing to give animals a voice. Activists, you have our support and our love.

Photo credit: Rawpixel/Getty Images

44 comments

Angeles M
Angeles Madrazoabout a month ago

Great beginning! Thank you

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Karen N
Karen Nabout a month ago

Good on Cuba's animal lovers! . . . A very positive and commendable step forward indeed.

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn Oabout a month ago

Thank you Cuba and all the wonderful 2 and 4 legged participants, well done.

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Marija M
Marija Mabout a month ago

Very good, thank you Cuba.

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Sherry K
Sherry Kohnabout a month ago

Many thanks to you !

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Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooleyabout a month ago

Thank you.

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Debbi W
Debbi Wabout a month ago

Good for Cuba. Hope it helps the animals.

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Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago

TYFS

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Renata B
Renata Babout a month ago

Wonderful, awesome. People are waking up at last.

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