Puerto Rican activist urges Jewish business boycott

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An activist in Puerto Rico called for a boycott of local Jewish businesses, saying a primate-breeding facility approved for construction there is one of many “Jewish economic interests."

Bioculture Ltd., a company based in the African nation of Mauritius with monkey-breeding facilities at 19 sites around the world, has secured construction permits for a facility in the southeastern Puerto Rican town of Guayama. It expects to begin operating in the economically depressed town sometime in the summer of 2010, according to the Associated Press.

The monkeys bred there would be sold to U.S. researchers.

In articles published in the Puerto Rican Primera Hora and the Daily Sun, activist Robert Brito blamed Jews for past offenses against the environment, including a recent fire at a petroleum plant, according to a statement by the Anti-Defamation League.

“This is a concerted action by Jewish economic interests,” Brito is quoted as saying of the proposed primate facility. “This invention of bringing a facility for wild monkeys from Israel to Guayama constitutes ethnic discrimination against Puerto Ricans who live in Guayama.”

Monkeys have been an ecological drain on Puerto Rico since primates of several species escaped from research facilities in the 1970s and reproduced in the wild.

Brito erroneously called Bioculture an “Israeli company” in his interviews.

The ADL hit back Dec. 3 in a news release, calling Brito’s remarks “simply inexcusable.”

“Regardless of whether one supports or opposes plans for the primate facility in Guayama, it is simply inexcusable to attempt to use the Jewish community in Puerto Rico as a scapegoat,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in the statement.

A judge could decide as soon as this week whether to order an injunction to halt construction of the breeding facility.

 

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