Opponents of the Bioculture monkey breeding facility at Pueblito del Carmen in Guayama announced Tuesday that a Superior Court judge has ordered the controversial project to be halted, but an attorney for the firm is denying the claim, contending that he has not been notified.
Emil Rodríguez Escudero, an attorney for Bioculture, said through a spokeswoman, Annie Bird, that neither the company nor its lawyers have been notified of such a court decision. Olga Colón, a Pueblito del Carmen resident who supports the project, said she has received numerous phone calls from area residents saddened by the possibility that Bioculture may have to cease operations.
“If this were true it would be very sad and they are hurting the community because at least 50 individuals will now be left jobless,” said Colón, who noted that the firm has also created more than 100 indirect jobs.
The information that a Guayama judge had paralyzed the project was made by Roberto Brito, a resident of Pueblito del Carmen who has spent more than a year fighting the Bioculture facility, which has also stirred up opposition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, politicians and actors, including Benicio del Toro.
Brito and other opponents of the facility filed a petition for an injunction in October, contending that Bioculture officials broke the law in their obtaining of permits from government agencies. They said the firm’s operations could hurt the environment and pollute the water. The company is slated to breed Macaque monkeys so they can be used, elsewhere, for scientific experiments.
Bioculture officials, who have denied that they have broken local laws, filed a defamation lawsuit against Brito in November. The reported ruling against Bioculture Tuesday was hailed by Guayama Mayor Glorimarie Jaime, who opposes the project even though the past municipal administration had given it a seal of approval. “We are not interested in having the monkeys in Guayama. If these monkeys are not going to be sold here then what is the interest in raising them here?” she told a television news station.
Colón, a school principal, said that while Brito lives in the community he does not represent the majority, who support the project. She said more than 300 Pueblito del Carmen residents out of 450 endorsed in writing the Bioculture project. “Brito is representing people who do not live in the community and is being supported by PETA. He receives Social Security and does not care about taking away jobs from the people” she charged.
Brito could not immediately be reached for comment.
She said Pueblito del Carmen is a community on the verge of extinction and in dire need of jobs. “We have up to 20 abandoned homes from people who went to the states because they could not get jobs. Our elementary school is on the verge of closing because of low enrollment,” she said. Colón also blasted the mayor for her “failure” to ensure young people in Guayama have jobs. “Jaime opposes Bioculture but has failed to provide alternatives to help her community. I am very saddened by her attitude,” she said. “As far as I am concerned, we will continue to support[Bioculture].”