We are part of the animal kingdom, but we have adopted a position of privilege over other species, "because of the idea that we are the only rational beings, and the reference to a certain religious approach of human supremacy," said Jafet Gino Quintero Venegas, a specialist in Zooethics at UNAM's Institute of Social Research (IIS).
Labeling some animal species for consumption, food, companionship, laboratory, and even therapy is only a social construction and a classification that we have given them for certain purposes, which legitimizes using them and even taking their lives. The economic structure is responsible for the fact that we continue to see other species as resources. This anthropocentric posture, called Speciesism, is a form of discrimination against other animals for the simple fact of not being human. It is the most terrible discrimination in history because it has killed more living beings than any other, he warned.
Gino Quintero, who has made academic stays at the universities of Monash and Sydney, in Australia, explained that in the Western world, at least 25 centuries ago with Pythagoras, there was already talk of animal protection. The Greek philosopher said that there was nothing more immoral than taking the life of a being without it having completed its natural cycle.
The first situation that demolishes the fact that other animals are not rational beings occurred in July 2012, when the Cambridge Declaration of Conscience was signed, in which it is accepted that the other species of the animal kingdom by having a central nervous system "are self-aware of their pain and pleasure", and that we should rethink relations with them.
"The pig that is confined knows that it is suffering; so does the little rat in the laboratory, they are conscious of themselves". With this statement, a series of practices made throughout history began to be condemned, because since centuries ago science had never established that this was negative, although Philosophy had done so at least 25 years ago", he detailed.
The IIS researcher, who also has a postdoctoral stay in the University Program of Bioethics of the UNAM, anticipated: what is coming is to try to delegitimize these barriers that exist from the speciesist construction of society. In this context, he commented: "Abolitionism is another current that seeks the way to avoid animal exploitation, neither for clothing, transportation, recreation, nor experimentation, we know that it is very complex because there is a super economic structure that protects this series of practices".
The Ph.D. in Geography from the UNAM estimated that we are living through a series of environmental crises that force us to reflect on how valid is the economic-social development model we follow as a species, which is associated with the extinction of others. "Possibly in the long term, we can find a world or a society in which it is as outrageous to see how a dog is mistreated, as it is to see a snake being used for experimentation". Where there is the greatest possibility for this to become a reality, he stressed, is in the new generations, who are beginning to learn about this discourse.
Humanization of animals?
Beatriz Vanda Canton, Ph.D. in Bioethics from UNAM, revealed that indifference, cruelty, and irresponsibility harm them, because they have effective states and that is not humanizing, that is scientific evidence. It is a term used by people who are against animals or who are afraid of having their legal status recognized; it is a concept used to counteract these positive attitudes of ethical consideration towards other species, she said.
The academic from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry emphasized that somehow the focus has been put on companion animals since they share our space and life. There are millions of exploited animals that are confined, mutilated, and killed without complying with official norms; they become aware of this when they are executed. In rural environments, there is also mistreatment, in addition to the fact that there are others bred o be tortured and eliminated, such as roosters and bulls, in the so-called "blood sports".
"I don't know which species is the most mistreated in Mexico, but there are still customs, such as 'living piñatas', where they put ducks and other live animals, and the children have to beat them until the piñata 'bleeds'," she said. For this reason, it is important to establish the reduction of pain and stress in the traces and to prohibit cruel activities, because this also normalizes violence and death among humans themselves.
Several countries changed civil and penal codes where they have recognized the status of sentient living beings, which is progress. "Society already knows that they are not objects, nor goods; however, in practice, acts of abuse continue and we remain in the same situation. We are their guardians, not their owners, we think we can have them and treat them however we want, it is not like that". The population does not see the reality of animals destined for consumption, and they focus on dogs, cats, horses in urban environments, so social sensitivity is even more important than laws.
"If we had this awareness we would not need prohibitive laws, nor punitive laws, because we would curb certain behaviors we have towards animals, violent behaviors that we have normalized." In the legal sphere, work has been underway since 2007 on an initiative for a General Animal Welfare Law that would cover domestic and wild species that are under the care and tutelage of human beings, but it has not materialized.
However, the Penal Code of Mexico City penalizes and punishes animal mistreatment with the reform to Article 350 Bis, considering it a culpable offense and the sanction is from six months to four years in prison, in addition to economic fines that can reach up to one thousand minimum wages. "It depends on whether the damage led to the death of the animal or affected it physically and emotionally. In addition, not only obvious injuries are punished, but also acts of negligence, omission of care, and recklessness," she concluded.