Castroism and Animal Cruelty
“The heart of a city is measured in the love with which it treats its animals.”
I read in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being that a wave of violence against Czech animals was unleashed in 1968, shortly after the Prague Spring. This violence was a warning sign of the political repression that would soon be unleashed on Czech reformists by the Soviet Communist regime.
- Is it worth-while to focus on the last images and letters coming from the inside of the last living utopia on Earth? Is Cuba by now a contemporary country or just another old-fashioned delusion in the middle of Nowhere-America? A Cold-War Northtalgia maybe? Can we expect a young Rewwwolution.cu within that Ancien Régime still known as The Revolution? I would like to provoke more questions than answers.
- Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.
Thousands of miles from that Red Europe sitting behind an Iron Curtain that no longer exists, a half-mad, half-lucid poet named Luis Marimón (Matanzas, Cuba, 1951–Las Vegas, USA, 1995), wrote that “the heart of a city is measured in the love with which it treats its animals.”
In the Cuba of 2012 there are many people who, in the grip of ignorance and fear, have lost a good part of the humanity in their souls. The streets of large cities such as Havana are teeming with stray animals—both mammals and birds—that get sicker and sicker until they die (and decompose) in the street, or are flattened by a vehicle that cannot be bothered to brake to save the poor creature, which will almost always have been abandoned by its good-for-nothing owners.
Cuban law does almost nothing to tackle this. The communist regime is too focused on repressing any hint of differences between its citizens that might make them feel free. The impunity given to those who torture working animals is outrageous. This cruelty reaches a fever pitch in the mysterious practices of Afro-Cuban religions where animal sacrifice is approved of by most of the community as a necessity for restoring the health of human beings. In this sense, Castroism is closer to an insular feudal society than the 21st century.
I beg the forgiveness of the civilized world for such barbarism. So much gratuitous death as a way of life might be a warning of greater tragedy to come.