Neutering needed, not neutralization
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1997:
by Patrice Greanville
Editor’s note: ANIMAL PEOP
L E website designer Patrice Greanville,
raised in Chile, spentt November traveling
on business in Chile, Brazil, and Argentina.
He has assisted humane societies, environ –
mental and animal rights groups, and ani –
mal-oriented media in all three nations.
The problems in Latin America
with all kinds of animals are staggering, and
humane education is still in its infancy. Stray
dogs and cats are all over, in terrible condition,
and the rate of roadkills easily surpasses
what we see in the U.S.––partly, I suspect,
due to poor road design, the penchant for
speed, and other bad driving habits. Even
the access highways to major cities are littered
with carcasses, including the remains
of horses, chickens, and hogs, who like
dogs and cats wander with little supervision.
Compounding the problem is the
passivity of public authorities, the perennial
scarcity of funds, the primitive volunteer
shelter and animal control network, and the
marked stinginess of especially the Chilean
upper class, which while always ready to
import other attitudes from the U.S., has
never seen fit to copy the U.S. upper class
tradition of donating substantial assets to the
public patrimony. Indeed, it is practically
unheard of in Chile for prominent families to
pass even a minute part of their wealth to the
public via private foundations.
Two other factors merit attention.
Despite the underdeveloped condition of
Latin American animal defense organizations,
their painfully inadequate resource
base (few groups have either computers or
fax machines to work with), and the frequent
lack of administrative and fundraising skills,
there is no dearth of volunteers. In most of
Latin America, especially in the poorest sections,
many people go out of their way to
help animals. But, countering the spirit of
volunteerism, the free market philosophy
now completely dominates public policy,
valuing only what can be bought or sold.
Imported and introduced under the military
regimes that ruled most of Latin America
from the early 1970s until the late 1980s and
early 1990s, free market philosophy has
wrought havoc with ecosystems, as both
government and private property owners race
toward maximum exploitation of resources,
with little thought about the longterm survival
of either animals or the environment.
Yes, there are groups that offer a
glimmer of hope. And yes, there are thousands
of inividuals working hard throughout
the continent to defend animals and the environment.
Indeed, even the “green” movement
has made inroads among the youth and
some of the traditional leftist parties.
Whether this is a mere passing fad, no one
can tell. What we can bet on is that these
developments will be continually challenged,
neutralized, or rolled back by the sheer vitality
of the pro-exploitation forces, their
entrenched positions in the highest echelons
of industry, society, and government, and
the relative disorganization and poverty that
still attaches to most ecoanimal work.