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Harvard President Garber Visits Club of Madrid, Faces More Animal Rights Activists

Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber '76 sits on stage during Harvard's 2024 Baccalaureate Ceremony. Garber visited Madrid on Thursday to attend a Harvard Club of Spain event but was protested by animal rights activists.
Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber '76 sits on stage during Harvard's 2024 Baccalaureate Ceremony. Garber visited Madrid on Thursday to attend a Harvard Club of Spain event but was protested by animal rights activists. By Julian J. Giordano
By Sally E. Edwards, Crimson Staff Writer

Updated June 29, 2024, at 12:53 p.m.

MADRID — Forget the pro-Palestine protesters. Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 can’t seem to escape the animal rights activists.

Garber visited Madrid on Thursday to attend an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Harvard Club of Spain, where he became the first University president to visit the club.

But as Garber entered the venue, a group of roughly 10 people affiliated with the animal rights group Abolición Vivisección chanted “torturador,” Spanish for “torturer.” The protester rallied to denounce experiments involving monkeys in a Harvard Medical School laboratory run by professor Margaret S. Livingstone.

Pablo Fernández, who attended the protest, said the U.S.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals helped coordinate and organize the protest. PETA has waged a yearslong campaign against the experiments conducted by Livingstone, calling on three different Harvard presidents to halt them.

The rally in Madrid came nearly one month after an incident at Harvard’s Alumni Day, where animal rights activist Brittany A. Drake glitter-bombed Garber as he prepared to deliver a speech onstage. Drake is currently facing three felony charges in Cambridge District Court and PETA later claimed responsibility for her actions.

HMS has previously claimed that PETA’s characterization of the experiments contain “factual inaccuracies.” Livingstone has also publicly refuted some of PETA’s claims about the experiments conducted in her lab.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton declined to further comment on the protesters’ allegations.

Fernández said his group “came here today, just to follow up on the protests that PETA is doing.”

“We want to raise our voice here, also in Spain, to acknowledge that we also know that this is happening,” he added.

Fernandez said that PETA members “got in touch” with Abolición Vivisección to coordinate Thursday’s protest.

PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo confirmed in a Thursday email that the organization had collaborated to organize the protest.

“PETA did let Abolicion Viviseccion know that interim President Garber was visiting and we shared information about the vicious experiments on baby monkeys,” she wrote.

Fernández said he believed the alleged experiments to be “particularly atrocious and cruel,” but also noted that he did not believe Harvard’s actions to be unique.

“This is not exclusively from Harvard, this is done worldwide,” he said. “But Harvard does have this distinctive status of being at the forefront of science research.”

Garber met with various Spanish alumni to commemorate the club’s anniversary. His visit to the club came during an official trip to Spain, but the University declined to provide additional details about Garber’s international travel.

“Interim Pres. Garber regularly engages and meets with alumni in a variety of cities and settings, and was pleased to join the Harvard Club of Spain this week to share University updates with the group, and meet with talented and thoughtful alumni from across Spain,” Newton wrote.

Garber will continue traveling throughout the summer. He is currently scheduled to appear at a Harvard Institute of Politics event in Washington on July 31 with incoming Harvard Kennedy School Dean Jeremy M. Weinstein and IOP Director Setti D. Warren.

—Staff writer Sally E. Edwards can be reached at sally.edwards@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @sallyedwards04 or on Threads @sally_edwards06.

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