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Brazzil - Behavior - April 2004

Brazilians, Those Barbarians!

No other country, which is not in a war, has the same homicide
rates as Brazil. There seems to be a correlation between the way
Brazilians treat animals and fellow humans. The party of the ox, in
the South, is sadistically perverse. People stick broken-glass into
the animal's anus to make it buck and then beat the ox to death.

Alan P. Marcus

Brazzil Picture There has been much talk among Brazilians on the recent barbaric acts committed in the Middle East. Furthermore, the Brazilian press seems to emphasize the death toll and the barbarism of war in the Middle East.

However, when the conversation reaches topics regarding Brazil, the response is often met with an immediate rhetoric of finger-pointing at another nation's wrong-doings in an attempt to divert attention to Brazil's situation, particularly when it comes to cases of animal cruelty.

Talking to Brazilians it is clear that crime and the death toll in Brazil is a disallowed discourse and animal cruelty is not even on the "radar screen" of most Brazilians.

The response of Brazilians to criticism on Brazil's high crime and homicide rates is often met with a defensive statement such as: "One can get robbed in any big city in the world…it is not only Brazil". Unfortunately it is only Brazil that the crime and homicide rates are astounding and the figures are nowhere close to other "big cities around the world".

No other country in the world, which is not in a state of war, has the same homicide rates as Brazil. According to a Veja magazine article published in May 2003, there were over 30,000 homicides in Brazil in 2000, almost double the number of homicides that occurred in Brazil in 1990.

Amnesty International has also indicated through a press release in May 2003, that Brazil is in violation of human rights, and according to Timothy Cahill, Amnesty International Brazilian investigations leader, the statistics on violence in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are reminiscent of war statistics.

Animal Cruelty

The farra do boi (the party of the ox), in the South of Brazil, is sadistically perverse. Onlookers and participants stick broken-glass into an animals' anus to make it buck more fiercely, and then beat and literally torture the oxen until they die.

There have been 65 registered cases by the police this year by the state of Santa Catarina. As strange and sickening as it sounds, this barbaric act is considered a brincadeira, "fun" by the participants. One case of the farra do boi is too many, hence 65 is as astounding and unsettling as Brazil's homicide rate.

The farra do boi is one of the most brutal and despicable human engagements in animal cruelty today. Albeit it has been outlawed since 1997, the governor of the state of Santa Catarina, where the festival occurs, refuses to denounce the festival, defending it as a tradition, and the farra do boi continues to take place under silent watch.

(For more information see website: www.farradoboi.org/farra/whatis.shtml). Even with a law banning such practices, with punishment of 3 months to a year of jail time, the practice still takes place. This event is reminiscent of events from Caligula's days, embarrassing to any Brazilian with a heart and disturbing to any human with a conscious.

As the 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham noted about animals: "The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?". And if the answer is "yes", then ultimately humans have an ethical obligation to not intentionally inflict pain on animals. Humans possess reason and therefore humans may reason about animal cruelty and choose options to avoid inflicting pain on animals.

Living beings that possess a central nervous system are capable of suffering and feeling pain, and therefore, why inflict pain intentionally when there are so many options available in avoiding to do so? This is a question that Brazilians need to start asking themselves.

There seems to be a correlation between the way humans treat animals and the way humans treat other humans (i.e.; those who commit homicide and rape often have a history of being offenders of animal cruelty). The correlation in Brazil between the high homicide rates (40,000 a year) and the 65 cases of the farra do boi registered, this year alone, should illustrate a pattern of misguided values in Brazil.

The saying learned from Mahatma Gandhi, should be reiterated in this case: "One should judge a nation by the way it treats its animals". Unfortunately, according to Brazil's statistics, the way it treats its humans is as distressing as the way it treats its animals.

Alan P. Marcus is a Brazilian living in the USA. He has written other articles on race and ethnicity for Brazzil magazine. E-mail contact:

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