After decades of rejecting citizens’ calls for animal rights legislation, the Cuban government has finally passed a long-awaited animal protection statute.
The Animal Welfare Bill mandates that state agencies and animal welfare organisations maintain their responsibilities for animal physical and mental wellbeing, as well as banning all types of animal cruelty, which can result in penalties of up to 7,000 pesos.
Keepers of cattle, sport animals, and pets are all subject to these obligations. Pet caretakers must now pursue preventative and emergency medical care for their pets.According to a recent press release from the Ministry of Agriculture, the decree intends to “regulate the values, responsibilities, laws, and purposes regarding the treatment, protection, and use of animals to ensure their well-being.”
Lawmakers hope that the new legislation will spark a national conversation about animal welfare in Cuba, and that it will lead to a shift in public opinion. The new law comes in the wake of growing pressure from a younger generation of animal activists who have organised mass demonstrations and social media campaigns, as well as a recent demonstration in front of the Ministry of Agriculture.Initiatives to save and sterilise stray animals, eradicate animal carcasses from public spaces, and prohibit spiritual animal sacrifices have all resulted from youth movements.
Despite these efforts, the Agriculture Ministry stated on its website that new legislation would not prohibit animal sacrifice but would require it to be carried out in a “compassionate and timely manner, avoiding pain and stress.”
The Cuban Parliament expects the animal protection bill to take effect in 90 days after it is published in the Republic’s Official Gazette.