In 2007, Costa Rican artist Guillermo Vargas,Habacuc tied a stray dog on a short leash in a Nicaraguan Art gallery and starved the dog to death. Vargas hired a few poor Nicaraguan children to capture the stray, and proceeded to have the dog starved in a Managua art gallery in the name of “Art.” In spite of public outcry, the lack of animal welfare laws in Nicaragua prevented any action to stop this grotesque exhibit. There were no local consequences for Vargas.
After several days of the dog being on display, it died. Vargas planned to repeat his cruel exhibit for the sixth Central American Visual Arts Biennial of 2008 that is to be held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The Biennial ruled that Vargas’ exhibit in Managua was art. Many were surprised and stunned and reacted strongly to this ruling. A Facebook petition was started and gathered over two million signatures. After also hearing of this unethical treatment, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) sprang into action. WSPA met with members of the Honduras Association for the Protection of Animals and their Environment and with the two million signatures, went to challenge the animal injustice. They met with the organizers of the Biennial and their business sponsors. They agreed that AHPRA would be allowed to observe the art exhibits and also instituted a new rule for the Biennial. There would be no abuse of animals.
Vargas defended himself by releasing a statement. He said that the dog was a stray, was very sick and would have died anyway. He said, “[I] let the dog die from lack of food.” There is no excuse for that kind of cruelty. There is no place for it. The Nicaraguan Assembly is now considering legislation for the protection of animals in the country.