Source: Animals’ Angels
One of Mexico’s largest TV stations, Milenio Television, aired a strong anti horse slaughter piece. This is the first time that this issue is getting nationwide attention in Mexico, and the TV station just told us that the feedback has been incredible…The reporter specifically targeted the imports from the US and the cruelty exposed by AA at Southwest Livestock Auction as well as the Eagle Pass and Presidio export pens.
Please share wide and far and like the article on the Milenio page!
The cruel trafficking of U.S. horses to Mexico for slaughter
Policy • March 26, 2013 – 12:08 am – Victor Hugo Michel
Mexico has become a major producer of horse meat in the world, but allegations documented by NGOs reveal the cruelty with which it transports and kills animals from the United States.
Texas • As always, the trucks leave the pens just outside of Presidio very early and start driving on rural roads, raising large dust clouds that smell like fertilizer and diesel. The convoy is heading to the border of Mexico and will leave Southern Texas through the desert of Chihuahua.
Within minutes, the transport truck will be parked at the gates of Ojinaga, where it will wait to receive the necessary documentation to make the crossing. But unlike other trailers that at this time are expected to move from one country to another with all types of products, sounds are coming from inside in trailer. You are hearing hooves against the metal.
If you get to peek through the vents, you can see some close snouts to sniff the intruder. These horses are on the road to their death. They have been bought by Mexicans engaged in the production of horse meat for export, a controversial industry that Mexicans know little about and which critics say falls squarely within the realm of the cruel.
“The way the animals are transported and then slaughtered is cruel and inhumane. We are convinced that these are not animals for human consumption, “said Valerie Pringle, equine protection specialist for the Humane Society of the United States, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring the ethical treatment of animals. “These horses are made to suffer terribly on their journey to slaughterhouses in Mexico.”
Sonja Meadows, director of Animals Angels, another group pro animal, seconded: “We followed trucks loaded with up to 40 horses for over 36 hours and at no time the animals were given water or allowed to leave to rest (…) there is no excuse for the inhumane treatment “.
Pringle and Meadows relate to a fairly new phenomenon that has led Mexico to become in about half a decade one of the world’s major producers of horse meat, second only to Argentina and Canada and above traditional production countries such as France and Holland. Since the U.S. government in 2007 banned the commercial killing of horses considering it an inhumane practice, the killing has increasingly migrated south. Thousands of horses are imported annually into Mexico for slaughter.
According to data from the National Health Service, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) obtained via the Federal Transparency Act in five years 321,000 horses crossed the Rio Grande and ended up in one of the five plants that are authorized by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, located in Chihuahua, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes – On average, 175 horses are imported daily for slaughter.
The trend is upward. Ojinaga and Presidio could be viewed as the epicenter of bi-national traffic of horses for slaughter. At the border shared by the two cities alone, 34,000 horses were crossed in 2012, with updated figures until November. Another 32, 000 crossed in Piedras Negras and Ciudad Juarez.
Before crossing into Mexican territory, different buyers accumulate the horses at pens in El Paso, Eagle Pass and Presidio. According to the Department of Agriculture of the United States, the horses travel several thousand miles, from states as far away as Utah, Tennessee, Oklahoma and even Minnesota, at the Canadian border.
In this part of southern Texas and northern Chihuahua the evidence of this flow of equine can easily be observed, both those arriving and those who leave. Inside the export pens, hundreds of animals are waiting to be loaded onto the trucks that go to Mexico.
Some loaded trucks carry over 40 horses, the trailers will be sealed after the checkpoint where Sagarpa staff checks for infections or injuries. Once approved and crossed into Mexico, the horses are on a long ride that will take them by road to the plants of Camargo, Aguascalientes and Zacatecas. Along the way, it is sometimes possible to see the horses hold their heads high trying to get some air.
“We see this happen every day,” says a soldier stationed at a checkpoint halfway between Ojinaga and Camargo, on a route with limited traffic. “Trucks and trucks full of horses. That’s all that is going down this road. ”
On average, a horse can have up to 150 kilograms of meat, plus intestines for sausages, musical instrument strings and glue. But it is the consumption of horse meat itself where you enter a controversial issue openly. Many countries reject the idea on the basis that they are pets and not livestock raised for the specific purpose of being slaughtered.
Furthermore, the drugs used to treat horses throughout their lives should not enter the food chain. “A horse is not a chicken or a cow. Drugs that are given to horses are serious risks to human health, “said Pringle, who noted that her organization has reason to suspect that among the huge amounts of horses exported from the U.S. to Mexico for slaughter, some have hazardous substances in their system.
The debate over horse meat ends up being subjective. But Mexicans are usually not those who consume the meat. According to figures from the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI), in about a decade equine slaughter in Mexico went from marginal activity-focused on a few consumers-to a multimillion dollar industry, but with a distinctly foreign market.
For example, the Foreign Trade Statistics Yearbook records that between 2009 and 2012, exports of “horse flesh” valued more than 1,700 million pesos were made to 13 countries on three continents. Buyers for the horse meat produced in Mexico have emerged in Belgium, France, Russia, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Sweden and even Swaziland, among them some of the few nations in the world who consume without taboo.
It is a particularly high rise if you take into account that the industry did not exist before. Since 2004, the earnings of Mexican slaughter plan have grown 500 percent and are now close to 468 million pesos.
Horse meat production for export has expanded into triple digits. For 2011, the figures reached a record high, with about 10,747 tons of meat produced, the bulk of which comes from the two plants in the Zacatecas area, located in Fresnillo and Jerez. It is one of the highest yields in the world, according to statistics from the United Nations Organization (FAO). At that rate, and without being a country where there is a significant consumption of horse meat, Mexico could become one of the world leaders in production before the end of the decade.
But the rapid rise of this industry comes with high cost. While closing of the plants in the U.S. has brought unprecedented gains to those engaged in the business of horse slaughter in Mexico, animal welfare organizations have documented a long line of violations and abuses that open the question of whether these horses – even when the final destination is the slaughter plant-are suffering more than necessary.
Our reporter saw first hand how, in Presidio, a truck from the export pens was parked in a lot for three hours, with an average temperature of 35 degrees. During that time, while preparing the export papers, it was possible to hear the horses kicking against the doors, without anyone near to provide water.
One of many routes that have been dubbed by activists as the “Death Road”, begins about 400 kilometers north of the border with Chihuahua, in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Following the ban on horse slaughter in the United States, thousands of horses are taken to the Southwest Livestock Auction.
Mexican and U.S. entrepreneurs attend every week to do business and buy animals whose final destination is the slaughter plant. Within the industry, they are known as “killer buyers” (buyers of death).
The price for some of these horses is minimal, sometimes not even $ 5 per head, although there are lots of healthy, young foals whose market value could be 50 times that. After being sold, the horses begin a long journey marked by cruelty.
MILLENNIUM had access to a series of videos recorded by hidden investigators from Animals’ Angels Inc., who in late 2012 documented several of these shipments bound for slaughter plants in Camargo, Fresnillo and Aguascalientes. The different videos show images of abuse, and drivers with sticks beating horses from the outside of the truck and leaving them sit in the open [roof trailers], despite the high desert temperatures.
Inside a trailer there is a horse that falls and is crushed by his peers. In another, the animals are completely overcrowded, unable to move, covered with manure. Some have open sores, are bleeding or eye infections. A picture taken in a pen, showing a mare and a dead foal, side by side.
Animals’ Angels Inc. has launched a campaign in Europe to expose the conditions under which Mexican horse meat is produced. “Our organization has worked in the field since 2007. We have conducted hundreds of investigations and are currently launching a campaign in Europe to raise awareness among consumers about the brutality and cruelty of this industry (..) “said Meadows.
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