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Animal Rights Campaigners Get Little Traction At Hialeah Pig Slaughterhouse Protest

Rick Stone

A roast pig for dinner on Christmas Eve is a cherished tradition in many Cuban families. Part of that tradition is the family trip to the slaughterhouse to pick out the Nochebuena pig and carry it home.

But modern sensitivities almost made the tradition a controversy on Tuesday, when a handful of animal rights demonstrators showed up at a Hialeah pig slaughterhouse with protest signs and literature.

The protesters were out-maneuvered. Apparently tipped off that demonstrators would be on hand, managers of the Matadora Cabrera had police and private security on hand to make sure reporters and protesters were kept out of the compound.

Meanwhile, dozens of cars, each carrying a Cuban dad or entire family, could be seen pulling up and driving away a little later carrying a freshly slaughtered pig in a plastic bag or a cardboard carton.

"It would be great if the media could go inside and actually film a pig getting killed and show that instead of even interviewing us," said protester Linda Bower of Miami Springs.

Credit Rick Stone
PROTESTERS Her sign says, 'It's not a tradition, it's murder.'

The slaughterhouse operates on a remote rural road in far west Hialeah, and Dec. 23 is the big day for family pig purchases. On the roadsides for blocks around, peddlers with carts and trucks sell charcoal, pig roasting pans and produce suitable for a Nochebuena pork dinner. Clearly, it's a deeply ingrained tradition.

But no tradition justifies cruelty to pigs, says Daniel Carron, a Washington-based field organizer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

"Pigs are very sensitive beings and live lives of complexity. At the slaughterhouse, they're confined in small areas. And they're killed and they're chopped up. And that's no way to celebrate a holiday," Carrion said.

The protesters carried literature and at least one of them waved a placard with a gruesome photo of a dead pig.

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