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Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

An Explosive Pill for Pigs: a Cuban Urban Legend or Animal Cruelty?

July 31, 2017 | Print Print |

Dmitri Prieto

Photo: alimentarseconconocimiento.blogspot.com

HAVANA TIMES — The subject of explosive pills for pigs is really quite shocking. Especially when you take into account the fact that the pill was clearly not made for pigs. However, vox populi associates them with these animals.

In fact, the original function of this pill isn’t completely clear.

The truth is we don’t know what it’s used for in pigs either.

I don’t even know if the pill in question exists. Hence, the possibility of it being a simple urban legend, like those memes that go viral on Facebook, or like the fake news that Siro Cuartel publishes about Cuba in his satirical online newspaper El Lumpen.

Not knowing what it’s used for in pigs is a very different statement to the alleged effect the pill has on pigs: word has it that it makes them explode. It seems that something makes it attractive to the pig so they eat it. The thing here, though, is that it isn’t clear what the pig owner’s interest really is in making them explode. We know that there are many different ways to kill a pig; normally, a long, sharp knife is used in Cuba for this purpose.

Pigs are, according to the Cuban band “Buena Fe”, Cuba’s national mammal, although it has never been declared as such by any government institution. There is a certain level of traditional respect for the Royal Palm in Cuba, the country’s national tree, and there are even certain laws that protect them; the semi-sanctity of cows in Cuba is famous, but there isn’t anything similar that protects pigs.

This alleged pill, which needs to be ingested by the animal for it to work, must contain a chemical component which reacts with the pig’s gastric juices, which contain a strong concentration of hydrochloric acid (HCI) and has a pH of nearly 1 (very acidic).

It must be have a very high concentration because people claim that it has a strong reaction with the acid, and this makes it one of the reactants needed to make the unlucky animal explode.

The pill contains the other reactant. When the chemical reaction takes place – which happens extremely quickly- after the coating of the pill (capsule) dissolves, a kind of instantaneous combustion takes place with a massive emission of gases, which makes the volume of the pig’s stomach drastically increase, and its stomach walls can’t contain it, so these gases then fill the pig’s internal cavities.

As there isn’t a way of stopping the reaction before the pills’ active components chemically interact with all of the acid which the stomach holds, the process ends with the complete destruction of the physical integrity of the pig’s external body, and its almost instantaneous death – but, we have to presume, still extremely painful.

The body will scatter in fragments, maybe keeping the skull, hoofs and tail of the poor animal intact to some extent. We don’t know if these remains will be edible for human consumption in these lands; but it’s likely that for some of these pill users, it might be pleasant for them to eat these remains after watching the spectacle.

The explosion itself might roast them at that very moment, in such a way that the roasted/smoked remains of the pig might be enjoyed by sick people who previously attended the explosion, to be entertained.

There might even be people willing to pay for this, or place bets on whose pig will explode first.

It isn’t clear who would do such a thing, nor why. Much less, why this pill was developed in the first place.

As a matter of fact, I’ve also heard that there was a similar pill for chickens. The sickness of this story reminds me of the cruel child recipes that exist about how to explode frogs and toads by putting salt on them, and also what happens sometimes with human corpses, which during the decomposition process, produce a kind of methane gas, which can make them explode noisily while still in their coffin, breaking through it even.

The most predatory version of this legend seems to be related to certain drugs developed for the Air Force, which supposedly make pilots explode in the middle of a mission. We don’t know whether this is for Cuban pilots, or why such a cruel death for a poor pilot is needed, even if it were in war…

In a nutshell, this could all be a great fake, like the story about the famous “goatsucker”: ideological games to divert people’s attention in the middle of controversy over a political Center, golf courses, Kempinski, climate change, 2018 and Trump’s presidency.

Anyway, we’re facing a mysterious enigma in Cuba today, where more and more voices are rising up in support of animal rights, even when an increase in social violence can be seen in the country, especially among young people, which many critics blame on reggaeton.


What's your opinion?

  • Eden Wong

    I can’t believe some people fall for this hogwash.

  • Michael Ritchie

    Not an urban legend at all. Merely the misuse of a costly pill invented by the CIA for use on El Jefe. But the CIA agent went rogue and sold his supply of pills to a cab driver, who in turn sold them to elderly farmers, claiming they were Viagra.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Did the elderly farmers explode Michael and did the introduction of Viagra precede the pill you describe being invented by the CIA? It takes great imagination to conceive of elderly Cuban famers dependent upon State controlled information – perhaps ‘Granma”, having knowledge of Viagra some forty years ago!

    • Eden Wong

      Thanks for chuckle, Michael.