Friday, July 1, 2011

Leave the Llamas Alone!

What's missing from this picture of Plaza San Victorino?
Of all the colorful and crazy things to be found on Plaza San Victorino, perhaps the most charming are the llamas and other camelids waiting for kids to take their pictures with them and climb onto their backs.

Police confiscate a sales cart parked on Rosario Plaza.
Whether it's an initiative of the recently installed acting mayor or in preparation for the upcoming Under-20 Fifa World Cup, Bogotá police have recently been cracking down on violations of public space laws.

That can be good. But driving the cute camelids out of Plaza San Victorino is taking things to extremes.

Vendors also told me that the cops are prohibiting the animals based on animal protection laws. If there are animals which are more spoiled and pampered than these, I haven't seen them.

Llamas Beethoven and Mateo

Lorenzo, who is half alpaca and half vicuña, takes a girl for a ride. 
Here are some better ways for cops to spend their valuable time rather than taking fun away from kids and income from humble llama owners:

Some, but not all, of the city's working horses are abused and forced to pull heavy loads. 
This horse's wagon was loaded with lightweight cardboard forms, but some are forced to carry huge loads. 
And, if it's animal abuse they're concerned about, what about cockfighting and bullfighting, which are legal?

Authorities might also consider enforcing laws against the pollution which is poisoning us all (including the llamas). 
A llama owner assured me that the city's crackdown wouldn't last. He's probably right. Prohibition rarely works, in any case. The city should instead license the llamas and make sure they get regular veterinary check ups. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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