Today's online edition of the Playa del Carmen newspaper La Respuesta featured an update about the fight to keep exotic animals from being exploited to the tourist trade in Playa del Carmen. Those of us who have been a part of the process, sending letters and petitions to PROFEPA and SEMERNAT will not be satisfied with the comments issued by Carlos Rafael Muñoz Terab, Secretary of Ecology and the Environment. 

What follows is a translation of the article posted online today:

After praising the work of the Federal Attorney of Environmental Protection (Profepa), the Secretary of Ecology and the Environment (Sema), Carlos Rafael Muñoz Terab, recognized that while federal law allows permits for owning exotic animals the display of these specimens will continue on Fifth Avenue.

He argues that it is currently "difficult" to exhibit exotic species without proper authorization, since noncompliance implies a sanction, confiscation of the animal and up to imprisonment for the offender, the official went on to comment, that for these reasons it is considered that "most have the corresponding authorization".

"I do not agree that nothing has been done about this issue, it seems to me that historically, Profepa has done a tireless job on Fifth Avenue of trying to enforce the law as it applies to the specimens of wildlife that are displayed: the wildlife law establishes the possibility of ownership of a species with do process, if there is “proper handling" and if it is specified as, “no problem", said the official, who added: “As much as we try to enforce the law, it is necessary that people make an official complaint against those who do not comply with the law, that is the remedy for these illegal practices and to obligate those who have permission from Semarnat to give the animals proper treatment”.

He admitted that the agencies are understaffed and remarked that, "the best staff are citizens, they are the  best tool".  “However”, said Muñoz Terab, "a complaint against an activity must be proven".

"It is difficult to attend complaints, the agencies are understaffed, and it is important to understand the legal process, if there is no evidence we can not take action", and added:
"I insist, the the only solution is to be informed of who has permits for ownership.  At this stage it is difficult to own and exhibit an exotic species without permission".
Carlos Rafael Muñoz insisted that "as long as federal law allows ownership of these species, this situation will continue, the activity will continue".

While it is somewhat encouraging to see this issue being raised by the media and addressed in some way by government officials, we at BuyPlaya believe that the best way to combat this type of activity is economically. Do not have your picture taken with any of the exotic animals being displayed on 5th Avenue and please do your best to educate other travelers to also avoid these vendors. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. Trade in exotic animals is expensive. If we can eliminate the demand, there will be no reason for these people to continue in this business. Please share this information on TripAdvisor, playa.info, In the Roo, LocoGringo and any other place where travel and destination information is exchanged.

The original piece on Diario Respuesta can be found here.

Keep Exotic Animal off 5th Ave. Playa del Carmen