Wednesday, December 7

Politicians lie, animals die

On October 21, 2001, a man imprisoned in Long Lartin Prison, in the United Kingdom, challenged the British Government by beginning his third hunger strike. He was serving an 18-year prison sentence for causing £5.8m worth of damage in arsons set in protest against animal testing. Beyond material damage, no one was injured; however, his condemnation as an example would serve as a lesson for a movement that had been losing fear for years and that expressed its rejection of animal exploitation with direct action.

Before all this, and while this man was waiting to be tried, in 1997 Tony Blair won the general election with a large majority not achieved since 1974. A historic victory for the Labor Party that was forged with many promises and proposals in full electoral campaign against the conservative government.

In the electoral contest, Labor’s Blair promised to create a commission that would examine the use of animals in scientific experimentation and the situation in which they found themselves, in addition to carrying out a popular consultation in relation to the practices of studying organs on live animals, a practice known as vivisection.

Perhaps, seen now, it may seem like a chimera, but to understand this scenario we have to go back to the mid-1990s, when the discourse and actions of the animal rights movements and the Animal Liberation Front had permeated much of British society. . Aware of this, the Labor Party knew how to take advantage of the social situation to sell its promise, even distributing electoral propaganda promising to offer a “new life for animals”.

While on the one hand politicians made promises, on the other they branded activists like Barry Horne as terrorists. He was the one who, tired of waiting years from his cell for the government’s promises to materialize, decided to start several hunger strikes that did not stop until he died. Horne tried to the end to get the politicians to keep his word, but his kidney failed, and on November 5, 2001, his body could not withstand the nearly 150 days of hunger strikes he had accumulated.

It has been 21 years since that fateful day and the legacy Barry has left is the commitment and inspiration to continue in the fight for animal liberation. His death marked a change for activism. However, for politicians nothing has changed. His lies and promises are unfulfilled in any electoral campaign and continue to be the order of the day in each parliamentary session. Are the modus operandi of any democracy.

All this history of Barry Horne with the British Government should teach us a lesson: politicians lie while animals continue to die.

After the publication of the images obtained in the Vivotecnia laboratory by Carlota Saorsa, the avalanche of institutional declarations did not take long to stand out from the uncovered horror. Public institutions showed their rejection and political organizations quickly ceased activity in the laboratory, all in the midst of an electoral climate where promises and good intentions prevailed to satisfy the possible voter who cried out for justice.

What happened next? Where are the promises? What happened to the animals? During the first months after the horror of the animals in the laboratory was uncovered, an exchange of letters between the Department of the Environment of the Community of Madrid and the Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda made us part of a dance of lies that have nothing to envy those of the British Government. After Barry’s death, the reaction of the Labor government was based on distancing itself from the approaches and negotiations, being the minister George Howarth who branded the activist a blackmailer with the hunger strikes he had carried out.

In the case of Vivotecnia, we have, on the one hand, the Autonomous Government of Madrid, which a few hours after the images were published, condemned what had happened, but which, as the days went by, was diluted in the ambiguity of an informative fog where it claimed to be protecting the animals with vets on-site, but without clarifying which entity they belonged to and whether they were CAM employees or subcontracted for the occasion. On the other hand, Sergio García Torres, the General Director of Animal Rights, stated at the doors of the laboratory that the animals would leave in the next few days, that they were working in coordination with the rest of the public bodies, in this case CAM and SEPRONA, and that it was a matter of time. Finally, we have the SEPRONA security forces, which in the first hours of the scandal were more determined to find the person who had recorded the videos than to protect and guard the animals.

On the other side, the citizens dismayed by the horror of the images stuck in the retinas and the activists at the doors of the laboratory believed with all our strength that the animals would come out of Vivotecnia. The carriers were waiting outside the lab doors, and the urns were just around the corner. On May 4, elections were held for the Community of Madrid, in a climate where the pandemic was passed by on the terrace and only freedom was shouted. Paradoxical that Ayuso’s campaign motto was precisely that word that the animals of the Tres Cantos laboratory longed for so much.

Pulling from the newspaper library, we remember how on April 13, 2021, five days after the publication of the images of Carlota Saorsa by Cruelty Free International, the Community of Madrid stated that it was contemplating the transfer of the animals to shelters for later adoption. The day before, on April 12, 2021, the General Director of Animal Rights said in the Antena 3 news that as of that same day a coordination mechanism between the different administrations had been in place, in this case the Community of Madrid , SEPRONA and the General Directorate for Animal Rights, to give the animals that remained in Vivotecnia a protected location, promising that they would leave there over the next few days. From the social networks of the Podemos Madrid party, they did not take long to hang the medal with the publication of a text that, in addition to thanking Sergio García Torres for the work done, resolved the case with the following words: “The pressure has led to the closure of the facilities and the transfer of the animals to animal protection centers”.

Words that, in addition to being a lie, still resonate in a collective imagination that is difficult to erase. When activists take to the streets calling for the freedom of Vivotecnia’s animals, people’s response is usually bewilderment, since the vast majority think that this issue has already been resolved. Ayuso won the elections, and over time we have learned that, although Vivotecnia, in suspension of activity, could not access new contracts, the ongoing experiments never stopped. In addition, Vivotecnia again submitted to public tender in May, just in time for when the Community of Madrid lifted the suspension in June, alleging that the company had already put letters in the matter, despite continuing in the middle of the judicial process with all the unresolved accusations.

As Lucia Arana explains in her article in El Caballo de Nietzsche defend the indefensible: “The initial ”concern” seems to have faded and practically the same people continue to work there, carrying out the same processes. It’s not about avoiding evil, it’s about defending it and hiding it so it doesn’t leak again.”

What can we expect from a laboratory that manipulates the results of the studies carried out, or from a scientific community that criminalizes those who denounce animal abuse instead of betting on research without the use of animals. What more can we ask of politicians who never keep their word. Only his lies remain in the face of the commitment to continue fighting for the other animals.

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