A judge has barred construction of a monkey-breeding facility in southern Puerto Rico that has pitted people seeking an economic lifeline for their poor mountain town against other residents and animal activists.
The decision came in a lawsuit filed by nine residents of Guayama and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. They argued Bioculture Ltd., the company planning the facility, failed to hold public hearings or submit a full environmental impact statement. Bioculture denied the allegations.
''We're not resting on our laurels,'' PETA spokesman Justin Goodman said Wednesday. ''If Bioculture attempts to pursue this project any further, we are poised for action.''
Bioculture will appeal the ruling by next week, lawyer Jorge Martinez Luciano said. He represents the Mauritius-based company seeking to build a facility that would hold at least 3,000 macaque monkeys and supply them to pharmaceutical companies for research.
Superior Court Judge Juan Frau Escudero ruled that construction permits should not have been awarded because the facility would be built on land reserved for agricultural purposes.
''The monkeys are not being bred for consumption of their meat,'' the judge wrote in the 16-page ruling, which was issued last week but not made public until Wednesday.
Martinez dismissed the judge's definition of what qualifies as agricultural use, and he dismissed complaints by the townspeople involved in the lawsuit.
''None of them showed ... they would suffer real and palpable damage,'' he said.
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