Cuba: warehouse of African animals?
A decade ago, a member of GAP Project in Cuba was investigating complaints that came to us of raising of chimpanzees for sale for circuses and individuals abroad. In the survey, it was confirmed that Cuba was reproducing chimpanzees and using the Havana zoo as an operation center, and that the babies were just taken out from their mothers, donated to private individuals, who raised them artificially so they could be sold afterwards to circuses and animal poachers in Mexico.
Cuba had a strong presence in Angola for 15-20 years ago, helping the Angolan government to fight internal enemies, who were supported by South Africa and Western governments. When a ceasefire agreement was established, thousands of Cuban troops departed back to the island in ships, which also took samples of a representative part of African biodiversity, such as zebras, rhinos, giraffes, chimpanzees, etc.
Those animals would be reproduced in Cuba, for use in its zoos and to be traded with other zoos in the world; and also be sold - as they did with chimpanzees - for circuses and individuals.
The lack of proper maintenance of zoos and the lack of food suffered by Cubans also extended to animals. When the Government realized that a scandal could erupt with the subject of chimpanzees, the project stopped or submerged in the darkness of dictatorship that prevails there and that does not allow freedom of expression.
Another surge of trading of animals on the island of the "Castro brothers" took place recently. In an agreement between the Governments of Cuba and Namibia, 150 wild animals - including elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and antelopes - will be captured and sent to Cuba, in a Cuban partnership with zoos worthing 17 million dollars.
The capture operation, called Noah's Ark, will be filmed in HD by a film crew from Cuba, from the capture until the arrival of the animals in Cuba, a period of one year and a half. Cubans want to sell this film to cable TV channels worldwide.
When the project was announced a few weeks ago, South African Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals raised his voice to oppose the operation, which is planned tobegin in October this year and would cover 23 different species of African wildlife.
When we investigate the reproduction of chimpanzees for sale, we found that a close relative of Ernesto Che Guevara coordinated this animal trafficking in Cuba and the selling of chimpanzees; she won a percentage of the trades, a typical operation that happens in the underworld of Cuban society, which steals from the state as a way to survive.
It is absurd that in an era of fight, all over the world, for sustainability and protection of endangered species, two Governments, which are characterized by the tyranny they practice against their citizens, are now engaged in catching animals threatened to extinction in order to create a "profitable business" to the money leaders of both countries.