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The slaughtered pig and Marco Rubio


Republican U.S. Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio is getting on the wrong side of animal-rights activists who say his decision to post a twitter photo of a Christmas Eve pig slaughter was not only in poor taste -- it could have taken place at an illegal abattoir.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos denies the charge and said everything was on the up and up.

"This is not a USDA approved slaughter farm. This is not his home. This is an illegal operation," said Richard Couto, founder of the Miami-based Animal Recovery Mission, which fights what he says is a rash of illegal slaughter operations in the county.

"Most of the illegal farms have these wooden tables. You have four guys holding this pig down. It looks like this hog is still alive. The only time four men hold down a hog is when it is being slaughtered alive," Couto said.

But Burgos said Couto is off base. "There's no way four men could hold down a live pig that large," Burgos said, estimating the pig at 180 pounds.

He said Rubio snapped the photo at a Miami-Dade farm (he didn't know where) after the pig had been electrocuted (the common method of killing an animal). He said the men in the photo are preparing the pig to be roasted by removing the hog's hair.

"This is a Rubio family tradition enjoyed by thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people of Cuban-American descent every Christmas Eve," Burgos said. "It's Marco's way of giving insight into how his family spends Christmas Eve."

But Couto said he's looking for more proof to show that Marco Rubio doesn't "support the illegal industry going on in Miami-Dade." Couto said illegal slaughter operations break federal and state sanitary laws as well as local building and zoning rules. In addition, he said, they're cruel.

Couto said he learned of the tweet and photo this week and was profoundly disturbed. Rubio likely anticipated a backlash when he posted the photo with the cutline: "Working on the 2009 Rubio family Christmas eve pig. Warning picture not for the faint of heart."

Could there be a political backlash for the grotesque photo? Probably not in a Republican primary, where vegans and animal-rights groups probably couldn't muster much of a caucus.

Rubio's bigger political pig problem might be about pork of a different sort -- big-government spending that he now decries. But as state House Speaker in 2007 and 2008, he presided over budgets that had extra millions for Miami-Dade -- from $800,000 for artificial turf on Miami-Dade fields where he played flag football to the $20 million extra for two years for Jackson Memorial Hospital. It awarded him a no-bid consulting gig after he left government. The special line item for Jackson then disappeared from the budget. More herehere and here



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Ok so now a Christmas tradition has become an illegal act. Couto you just got your 10 minutes of fame.

Farm Ted

This is a huge problem....Charlie should create a task force to investigate every cuban american household to determine where those noche buena pigs come from. I am sure we can arrest a few.

Christy Lee

Isn't the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)the Agency within USDA that's responsible for ensuring compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. The 1996 Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) final rule has been implemented in all meat and poultry slaughter and processing establishments. At least the legal ones...I didn't see a Vet or a USDA inspector in this picture...did anyone else? Maybe he's the guy standing on the wooden, bloody table with blood all overy his boots. Isn't it the law?

Mandy Kelley

The point is not whether or not the pig is alive, but whether or not this is an illegal slaughter house in Florida! Any one running for a government office should not support illegal, cruel practices!!


I wonder if The Miamiherald has any judicial or crime links/blogs where local and state residents can report or debate crimes.


Christy Lee

The saddest thing of all seems to be there is no remorse for going into facilities like this and purchasing illegally slaughtered animals. It just lends credence to these operations continuing to torture animals by starving them, and then butchering them illegally and selling the meat. There is no remorse at all from the Rubio camp...as if the fact that this has been done for years behind closed barn doors and that it is customary makes it okay. It doesn't. It's cruel AND illegal, and purchasing from these ILLEGALLY RUN facilities is NOT okay.
I am stunned that a person running for the US Senate would post a picture like this and brag about the dead animal being for his Christmas Eve celebration. In a legal slaughter facility there is oversight, including a vet to make sure it is done humanely. All I see in this picture is four filthy men standing around a dead animal on a filthy, bloody wooden table. I don't see a vet, but I do see some beer bottles...
It's a very sad state of affairs for the State of Florida and the US Senate if he gets elected. SHAME ON YOU MARCO RUBIO. And for the rest of you out there that think it is okay to do this....What do you not get about the word horrifically cruel, and "ILLEGAL."


This Rubio guy is an idiot. Those slaughterhouses are a huge problem for Miami and the FBI and law enforcement are trying to shut them down and this idiot walks in there to buy a pig and posts the picture to Twitter.

Why didnt he just got to a butcher store or Publix. Stupid is all I have to say and this fool wants to run for Senate??

J Davis

Christy Lee.... Tell me a humane way to slaughter a pig. does it involve holding it's hand until it has taken it's last breath? or what?


Rubio is running for Governor of Florida..Crist is now in charge...personally I have cancelled my plans to visit Marco Island this year...I refuse to spend my time and money in a state where Barbarians are allowed to torture, beat, starve and illegally butcher horses and other animals. I am not the only one.....the word is out and enlightened folks are paying attention....hope Rubio realized he is now under the microscope and many of us are searching for proof he supports this illegal(s) business. Who gets to eat the diseased flesh from these animals, Miami diners????? Disgusted with Florida yet again.

B. Myers

George Orwell would like.
It hurts to stand up.


the cuban inmigration seems to be a problem I opose low life inmigration eventhough I am latin I believe that all borders should be closed and pick and choose only ethical people to come to this wonderful country also all inigrants should serve in the military before they get citizenship. yes I was a soldier. now I fight for animal rights and the cubans are among the worst offenders.

Luke Thomas

Republicans are always cruel to animals and support and pass anything that has to do with animal cruelty. So what's new about this.

Luke Thomas

Next thing you know they are going to legalize DOG FIGHTING because it brings in big bucks! People already worship the ground Michael Vick walks on - so why not just legalize dog fighting. It will get the Republican's rocks off watching a good old fashioned dog fight!


Hey, Luke - the pig isn't a Republican thing. It's a cultural thing. I'm a Republican and an animal lover, advocate, and volunteer, as are others in my family. We don't celebrate with slaughtered pigs at any holiday, but we are proud Republicans. You might want to think before making blanket statements about Republicans, like ignorant references to liking dog fighting. How dare you.


I wouldn't vote for this guy! He concerns me in regards that he is symathatic to slaughters of horse, hog and probably just about any other type of animal. His ultra-traditionalism (Cuban that is) see animals as nothing but food and for money.

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