Mario Benedetti said there are few more deafening things like silence, but it is clear that the Uruguayan poet never lived near a chicken coop, and certainly never tried to sleep in a room with a chicken coop four meters away.
That is the situation with which some neighbors of the Portuguese village of Arcos found themselves when their neighbors decided to build a chicken coop in the courtyard during the summer of 2012. For years they have lived a real hell, with a rooster and 10 hens that pass each early morning singing to everything he gives.
Those affected asked that the owners of the birds take them to another site, and as they refused, they were forced to denounce them and begin a judicial conflict that has lasted seven years .
In the first trial the judge gave reason to the owners of the chicken coop and said that whoever lived in a rural environment had to accept the noises made by domestic animals in the area. However, the complainants appealed and in the Court of Appeal another magistrate agreed with them and declared that the rooster and the chickens made a noise that made living together impossible.
That judge imposed a fine on the owners of the birds, who insisted on appealing the conviction and bringing the lawsuit to the Supreme Court of Portugal . This month the magistrates have confirmed the fine of 1,000 euros and have ordered the transfer of the chicken coop to a place where they do not disturb the neighbors of the area.
A cinematic conflict
The Supreme Court has considered that, although it is necessary to tolerate some inconvenience due to the noises that domestic animals make in rural areas, there must also be limits that guarantee the rest of all local residents. With this reasoning, the highest representatives of Justice of the country whose national symbol is the Gallo de Barcelos have ordered to silence the birds of the village of Arcos.
The conviction is striking because it recognizes the legitimacy of a complaint that has been ridiculed in the past. Six years ago, residents of the town of Resende denounced Luís Loureiro and his wife, Fernanda , for having a rooster that began to sing at 0530 hours each morning.
The judicial conflict jumped into the Portuguese media and the whistleblowers eventually became the hazmerreires of the interior of Portugal when they were accused of being complainers unable to deal with the reality of country life.
Although that complaint did not prosper, the case became so famous that it ended up being part of As Mil e Uma Noites , the candidate nominated the Oscar for the best international film in 2015.
In a section of Miguel Gomes' film, the rooster of Resende is forced to appear before an ex officio judge who tells him that if he does not justify his songs at dawn, he will be executed and served on the grill. Then, the rooster speaks with a human voice and explains that every night interrupts the dream of the neighbors to warn them about the pyromaniac that is setting fire to the forests that surround the town.
The magistrate acquits the animal instantly and recognizes the important civic work he has carried out.
Rural din, also in France and in Spain
Last May José María García , owner of a rural hotel in Cangas de Onís , got the City Council to force Fernando Villaroel to close his chicken coop by demonstrating that the bird clumping exceeded the noise allowed in the area, making it impossible to rest Tourists in the area.
The owner of the chickens resisted the order at first, but could not do anything to make official measurements that showed that the noise of the animals reached 72.4 decibels .
The case went viral when a local neighbor, Nel Cañedo - known as "the youtuber farmer" - posted a video in which he censured Garcia for complaining about the natural sounds of the countryside. Criticism was shared thousands of times on social networks and video on YouTube has been viewed more than 570,000 times.
In France, on the other hand, last month the Rochefort Criminal Court ruled against the couple who had denounced the owners of Maurice, a rooster from the Gala island of Oleron .
The magistrate not only pronounced in favor of the free song of the animal -which has the support of virtually all permanent residents of the island, and the occasional French deputy-, but imposed a fine of 1,000 euros to the complainants for having bothered the owners of the rooster.
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