ELIANA HERRERIAS—The Animals’ Advocate
By Gustavo Larios Velasco*
(*President of the Mexican Association for Animal Rights/AMEDEA.* Spokesman for META/Mexico for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Representative of the Humane Society International.)
Q: Eliana, what links do you find between your educational and professional profile and the rights of non-humans?
A: As a Social Educator, I’m especially interested in violence prevention in schools and communities. Humane Education promotes non-violence, respect and responsibility towards all species, and here is where violence prevention starts: through not harming anything that lives.
Q: What about the argument that one must first help children and then the animals?
A: As the most rational beings on the planet, we must support different causes at the same time, based on where our interests and skills are. Supporting only children or only animals, or the environment will not have a positive effect in our planet. We are all interconnected and all causes have exactly the same worth and level of importance.
Q: Do you believe it is right that laws protect non-human animals, punishing those who abuse them…even with jail?
A: Yes. New generations are starting to question legal systems that support violence and abuse towards any living being. Social networks are increasing awareness and professional key activists like you are now involved in the animal regulations area promoting a more consistent law: if killing is a crime, then hunting, bullfights, dogfights, and cockfights should be punished as such.
Q: How do you perceive the new generation regarding its treatment of other species?
A: It is through technology and social sites that young generations have been able to connect with those who share their interests and views regarding the importance of protecting other species. Also, those who were not aware of the animal situation in the world are now becoming better informed about the abuse and suffering that animals go through. Many are joining animal welfare groups to support their actions.
Q: In less than a year, there have been five states within Mexico that enforce sanctions for animal abuse, while seven municipalities and one state ban bullfighting, and another municipality does not allow animals in circuses and prohibit cockfighting. Why do you think this is happening?
A: People are now more organized in groups and alliances. This way, authorities have been receiving a lot of pressure from these welfare sectors who actively promote their messages in public demonstrations and media. These municipalities have finally considered that these practices promote violence through desensitizing its population from the suffering of others who feel and have the right to live.
Q: You participated in the development of a great book that can educate children to respect human rights and the rights of nonhumans. What was the aim of this work?
A: The objective of this educational project, soon to be implemented in schools in the Lakeside area school system, is to promote respect among children toward their own species, animals and the environment as a way to live in a world of peace they deserve.
Q: Do you think animal welfare education is possible and what would be the significance if it happened?
A: It will be possible on the long term. Our Humane Education project is the first milestone in Mexico to provide animal welfare education with official authorization within the public education system. Its significance lies in that, when progressively implemented, we will become a society with more citizens sensitized to the suffering of others, and who will no longer hurt other species. As a consequence, hurting our own species will one day become unthinkable.
Q: You are a META Delegate in Jalisco (Mexico for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). What goal do you have this year and what benefit will this contribute to our community?
A: Part of the goal already has been accomplished: The introduction of the first professional Humane Education Program in the public school system. The first stage of its implementation will soon begin in 51 schools within the Chapala Lakeside community. Through Salud y Derecho Ambiental, A.C. co-member of the Humane Education Alliance, we will launch the first Animal Welfare Training for staff in municipalities: Ecology, Police, Firefighters and all those involved in animal cases.
(Ed. Note: Congratulations, Eliana! The service you and your associates are providing here at Lakeside will guarantee many marvelous benefits to both our two-legged and four-legged residents for many years to come!)