An animal-welfare advocate spoke at the Escondido City Council meeting on January 26 to lobby for the ban of Mexican rodeos, or charreadas. Melinda Santa Cruz, a longtime Escondido resident, told councilmembers she was encouraged to speak out on behalf of steers and horses by Eric Mills of the Oakland-based Action for Animals.
According to Santa Cruz, she resisted attending the meeting at first because she is “not much for getting up in front of people.” But Mills had said, “If you don’t, who will?” “He’s right,” Santa Cruz told the council. “Animals can’t speak for themselves. They aren’t allowed in city hall. They don’t vote. They can’t say, ‘It hurts when you rip off my tail; it hurts when you break my legs; I’m scared when you chase me.”’
Santa Cruz said she was present on January 12, when members of the Asociación de Charros de Escondido asked the council not to evict them from a site where rodeos have been held for 39 years. They claimed the tradition has been passed down from one generation to the next and that they made many contributions to the community, which justified the organization's payment of $1 per year to lease the city-owned property.
“I ask you,” said Santa Cruz, “who needs a tradition that sends innocent animals to the slaughterhouse? And for a dollar per year? I hope we are better people than that.” A representative for the city clerk said the matter of finding a new home for the group will be on the meeting agenda in early March.