Historic march for animal rights in Cuba

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HAVANA, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Over 400 Cubans of all ages took part in a historic march through the streets of Cuba's capital on Sunday in the hopes of helping bring about an animal welfare law.

Children, adults and the elderly, many accompanied by their pets, gathered at El Quijote Park in central Havana early in the day, carrying posters demanding an end to animal abuse.

As a non-governmental organization that mainly brings together animal lovers, Cubans in Defense of Animals was one of the leading organizers of the three-kilometer march.

"I'm happy and excited because this is a historic event in our country," said Beatriz Batista, a student at the University of Havana and a member of the organization.

"The main goal of this demonstration is for an animal-protection law to be passed in Cuba," said Claudia Alonso, another student at the University of Havana who helped make the posters for the march.

The march ended symbolically at the tomb of Jeannette Ryder, who in 1906 created on the island the so-called "Band of Mercy," an organization dedicated to protecting children, animals and plants.

The Cuban Association for the Protection of Animals and Plants, an animal-rescue group, has campaigned for an animal welfare law to criminalize animal abuse for 30 years.

In 1988, a year after the founding of the group, a first draft of the bill was presented to Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power, but it failed to pass.

About a year ago, the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture said officials were working on drafting an animal welfare law.

According to the World Organization for Animal Health, an animal is in a satisfactory state of well-being when it is healthy, comfortable and well nourished, can express its innate behavior, and is free of pain, fear or stress. Enditem

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