Cuba has approved a long called-for decree on animal welfare in what some rights activists are hailing as an unusual triumph of civil society in the Communist-run country where animal sacrifice and cock and dog fighting remain commonplace. The move aims to prevent cruelty and raise awareness about the need to protect animals, marking a cultural advance in a nation where strays abound and the coast is strewn with chicken carcasses sacrificed in religious rituals.
Although details remain scarce, the new legislation will become clear within 90 days when it is published in the Official Gazette. “Cuba was one of the few countries in Latin America that didn’t have an animal welfare law so to have one now is an immense joy,” Fernando Gispert, President of the Havana branch of the Cuban Association of Veterinary Medicine. The Agriculture Ministry said the decree, which regulates scientific experiments, the handling of strays and veterinarian practices amongst other matters, responded to concerns aired in a nationwide debate over the new constitution three years ago.For decades though, animal rights activists have called for legislation on animal welfare, largely through official channels in the one-party state where public dissent is frowned upon. Read more