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".
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.
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.
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org