This Saturday at La Exposición de Gandadería, Agricultura e Industria Internacional – commonly known as Expo Rural – more than 40 vegan activists staged a peaceful protest interrupting a dressage contest. The activists walked onto the central track, bearing posters with slogans against the exploitation of animals. Less than a minute later, a tense and violent altercation ensued: using their horses, gauchos ran them off and out of the area.
Los gauchos corrieron a rebencazos a los veganos que invadieron La Rural. pic.twitter.com/t5KlbLO3rT
— ElCanciller.com (@elcancillercom) July 29, 2019
Most audience members repudiated the protest, erupting in applause when the activists were kicked off. Videos of the altercation surfaced on the Internet and across social media, sparking reactions on both sides. Some saw the protest as a rude disruption of an event where participants had trained for years to participate, while others were disgusted by the violent reaction toward the protestors themselves. One woman even reported that activists were threatened with switchblades.
Many of the activists were part of a group called DXE Buenos Aires who define themselves on Facebook as “a group of individuals committed and willing to fight every day of their lives for the liberation of animals.” DXE is an international organization, rooted in San Francisco with chapters all across the world.
All week, activists have staged demonstrations across different events at the Exposición Rural in the midst of its “Meat Week.”
“The Exposición Rural is a symbol, an example of all of which represents the culture of animal exploitation in Argentina … We will be there, repudiating, protesting, taking action with other organizations, activating the rights of animals,” DXE Buenos Aires posted to Instagram on the first day of the exposition. At the protest on Saturday, DXE Buenos Aires was joined by other organizations, such as Animal Libre, Anonymous for The Voiceless, Buenos Aires Animal Save, ECOnciencia V, Fridays for Future, and Voicot. While all of these groups denounce the meat industry, they do differ slightly. Voicot’s founders, Malena Blanco and Federico Calegari, have publicly voiced disgust with dressage practices, referring to them as exploitative. Other organizations are more concerned with animal cruelty in food industries, while ECOnciencia focuses mostly on the climate effects of animal agriculture.
In response to the gauchos’ reaction, the activists filed a criminal complaint. Meanwhile, Sociedad Rural Argentina responded by “rejecting any violent actions,” but not necessarily condoning the “participants, who prepared for years to compete, and reacted to evict [the activists].”
As demonstrated by the protest, veganism often prompts a visceral, tense reaction in Argentina. It’s a country that boasts second-highest rate of beef consumption in the world, where the average person eats 57 kilos of beef a year. Nonetheless, veganism is growing even more popular, especially in cities like Buenos Aires. One activist’s sign, bearing the slogan “Existen otra alternativas,” conveys the recent growth of plant-based options; more than 60 vegan and vegetarian restaurants operate in Buenos Aires. In fact, in 2017, the then head chef at the Casa Rosada Dante Liporace introduced “Lunes Vegano” as a creative meatless Monday menu for the entire building’s staff.
There’s never a dull moment in Argentina. And with the continued stress that climate change and overpopulation place on the world’s resources, we’ll surely see more of these protests both in Buenos Aires and beyond. What I do know is that you can get vegan choripán and milanesa around here, if you’re into that kind of thing. Happy Meatless Monday!