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Santeria Priest Calls Richard "Kudo" Couto's Animal Abuse Allegations "Hate Speech"

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Ernest Pichardo
Oba Ernesto Pichardo, the high priest and president of the Santeria church that won a landmark Supreme Court case, doesn't take kindly to a renegade animal-rights activist's claims that his faith practices "torture." In fact, he told Riptide yesterday afternoon, he wants to see Richard "Kudo" Couto arrested for breaking property and weapons laws. "He needs to tone down his rhetoric and educate himself," says Pichardo, "and he can do that in jail."

Couto spent more than a year breaking into farms in the Northwest Miami-Dade County known as the C-9 Basin, capturing video evidence of the area's thriving illegal slaughterhouse industry. He forced the hand of state and local authorities, who last Spring finally raided the area and dismantled it.

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Last week, Couto told Riptide that an estimated fifty-percent of the slaughterhouse stock were animals doomed to become Santeria sacrifices, and provided us with graphic photos he claimed were evidence. Among Couto's claims: That puppy mills in the area were providing sacrifice animals for Santeria practicioners.

Pichardo, president of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, which in 1993 won a Supreme Court battle against the City of Hialeah concerning the legality of animal sacrifice, says Couto could spark a "hate crime" against his congregation. "We are in a crazy moment in our country," booms Pichardo in his Hialeah law office. "We don't need a person coming out of the woodwork, being led by an extremist who is lawless and who purports hate."

The Havana-born Pichardo says that Santeria sacrifices consist of a swift knife cut to an animal's carotid artery. Dogs and cats are never sacrificed. "Our faith recognizes that every animal has a soul," says Pichardo-- and there is no "torture" involved in Santeria practices.

As for Couto's photo of a garbage bag containing a decapitated goat and turtles, Pichardo says that it could have been discarded by devotees of "any Afro-Caribbean religion"-- but adds that Santeria practicioners are legally allowed to dispose of animal remains in the wild, as is their custom in some cases. While he doesn't deny that members of his faith may have bought goats or other animals at the C-9 Basin, Pichardo points out that they weren't the only ones. "To put us in with the words criminal, abuse, torture, is absolutely offensive to our faith," he says.

Pichardo wonders why, even after Couto openly broke various laws in our feature on him-- including ignoring "No Trespassing" notices, carrying two handguns, and stealing a pig from a slaughterhouse-- the activist hasn't been charged with any crimes. "He has no authority to do what he's doing," says Pichardo. "He's an extremist wearing guns, impersonating a law enforcement officer, raiding people's homes, and stealing people's property."

"What laws did I break?" Couto says when told of Pichardo's demands for his arrest. When reminded of the stolen pig and the trespassing, he laughs. "Oh, yeah. Well I do trespass, but the properties that I trespass on are some of the more illegal properties in the U.S."

Couto, who says he's been getting "a lot of death threats" since Riptide's post, stands by his claims and photos. "Most of the [sacrificed animals] I find, I don't see a small puncture wound under the chin," he says. "Maybe that's how [Pichardo] sacrifices his animals, but that doesn't mean that's what everybody in his church is doing."

Before the phone conversation ends, Couto issues a challenge: "Tell him to bring his information, and I'll bring my information, and we'll have a debate."


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259 comments
chango's baby
chango's baby

I don't know anything about the specifics of this situation, but as a iyawo, I would love to hear the Santeria community have a real discussion about the conditions under which the animals used in ceremonies are raised. 

The animals most Americans eat are raised under appalling conditions, and that has huge implications for our health, individually, ecologically and spiritually (as if there were a difference!).  While the animals sacrificed in Santeria rituals receive far more reverence than those that end up on the average American's dinner plate, that does not absolve us of the responsibility to look with open hearts at the lives they lead up until that point.

Urban practitioners of Santeria don't, as far as I can see, have a lot of great options.  But again, I would like to see the community be able to discuss this openly and non-defensively. Hard for a community that has suffered so much oppression to do--but necessary.

biblical demonologist
biblical demonologist

It's not only about the animals as well. I've seen victims of "Santeria" become spiritually "infested" (for lack of a better word). Not good. While there may be a few practitioners who are "safe", the majority out there are not. Palo Mayombe will follow Santeria as it currently is throughout much of Latin & S. America. It has to stop.

Ty
Ty

Have to side with "Kudo" on this. When in the hell did our nation begin to allow any ritual animal sacrifice? It's not a religion to me if it involves this kind of flat out stupidity and abomination. This so-called "priest" is just a puppet to hide the real practitioners of what I call stupid suggestive dark quasi-magic. Hell, from my research, I could start up my own religious order based off-shoot of Santeria and arm wrestle the government not only to maybe protect animal sacrifice, but why not human sacrifice? That is basically the road we are going down when we allow this kind of bs to slip through. Keep it out of the States!

AnonymousAwo
AnonymousAwo

For the record, the ritualistic use of animal sacrifice is legal and protected by the US Supreme Court decision "Hialeah vs. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye".

So...either engage us as full citizens with rights to our religious practice, talk, learn, discuss, without name calling....or you can always enrage yourselves, stress yourselves out, and ultimately get ulcers or a heart attack in your desire to do away with what legally WE CAN DO.

Your choice.

OluwoOgbeAte
OluwoOgbeAte

I write as a babalawo (a high priest of Santeria). Animal sacrifice is not a central part of the religion. 80-90% of the activities of the religion rely on the use of plant-based items (such as Red Palm Oil, Cacao oil, etc.). Most of the daily/weekly items used in Santeria rituals are herb-based items and/or water or Florida water.

Animal sacrifices are only used either 1) major initiations within the religion or 2) a specific request by our deities in the preparation of an Ebbo (a form of ritualized action of sacrifice). While they do occur, these are limited. It's not a continual, daily mass murder of animals. Please...reject the fantasies that you may have or that you may have seen in movies. I can tell you that what I thought the religion was before and after becoming a high priest within it are completely different things.

And yes, in 90% of cases, sacrificed animals are cooked and shared among worshippers and visitors to a religious gathering. When one of our deities requests it, it is forbidden for worshippers to partake of that animal, and this occurs rarely. It is far more common that the food is cooked and shared. how is that any different from butcher shops or animal farms and their business of selling animals for consumption?

The religion is not about animal sacrifice...it's about reverence of God, nature, creation, and the environment. The use of animal sacrifice has its purpose...it is not done wantonly and we're not "sickos". For the record, I am a Master's Degreed professional living in the United States. believers come from all walks of life.

Donald Alan Williams, Jr.
Donald Alan Williams, Jr.

This is one of the most insane arguments I have ever seen...I am a white male, 33, born in America, serving in the military for 12+ years. I was raised on a farm where my grandfather, father, and uncles raised various livestock for the purpose of killing, slaughtering, and feeding our family. I know very little about Santeria, so before I opened my mouth I decided to do a little research. I will not waste anyones' time quoting what I found. If you found this article, you can find anything else you want.What I will say is that there are fanatics from all walks of life that use religion as an excuse to do whatever they want. Catholics, Wiccans, Baptists, and Santerios alike. I will also say that true practitioners of Santeria kill, slaughter, and feed their families and community the same way my family did on the farm. There may be practitioners of this religion violating this, but there are also Christians violating what the Bible says. That was the rational part of my post, now for a little ranting...Most of you saying this religion is sick are doing so from the drive-thru window of your favorite fast food joint. You want to talk about sick and depraved acts of torture to animals- look no further than your friendly, good 'ole American fast food joint. The factory farms that these animals are raised on and the chemicals they are force fed to fatten them up as quickly as possible while suffocating on their own feces is torture. Go ahead and enjoy that Whopper while you denounce something you do not even understand. You want to talk about good 'ole America and how everyone else should go back to where they came from... I challenge any of you from either side of this argument to raise your right hand, grab your issued rifle, and stand post beside me. I have earned my right to say I'm an American, a Christian, and someone that can respect other peoples' religions. Most of you are just a bunch of redneck bigots who never have and never will put your life on the line for this country like I have and you make me embarrassed to represent you during my numerous deployments in defense of this Nation. You hide behind some made up name in a chat box and talk a bunch of big shit. If you think I am doing the same or that I am full of shit, my DD214 from the Army is public record at the El Paso County courthouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado and you can find me in uniform on Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colorado the first weekend of every month. Go look it up...Former Army Infantry Staff Sergeant and current Air Force Reserves Security Forces Technical Sergeant Donald Alan Williams, Jr.

Jeanette
Jeanette

Full disclosure right at the start. I am a friend of Kudo. Known him for many years. These allegations against him are, for the most part, false.

First, let's dispose of the allegation of stealing people's property. I believe this is reference to the pig. Yes. He took the pig. Why wasn't he prosecuted for stealing (some would say rescuing) the pig? Because the "owner" of the pig chose not to bring charges and ultimately "gave" the pig to Kudo. End of story.

Kudo has never "impersonated" a police officer. He does not raid "people's homes."

Trespassing - I would posit this question. Is it "trespassing" when those who are being "trespassed against" are, in fact, illegal squatters - not renters and not owners - secretly running illegal businesses on protected wetlands? Whose crime is it when the fences and the signs are placed there illegally? If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Has a crime been committed by ignoring those illegal fences and signs? I think the crime is that the fence is illegally erected on protected wetlands in the first place. That the animals are on these wetlands illegally and that the offal and byproducts of illegal slaughter (urine/feces/blood/body fluids) are seeping into our ground water. Those are the real, serious crimes. Kudo is just uncovering them and bringing them to the attention of law enforcement and the public.

Kudo does not purport hate except towards those who would brutalize trusting, innocent animals.

Now, as to the condition of the animals used for Santeria (or any other Afro-Cuban) religious rites that require slaughter. I speak from firsthand knowledge that has nothing whatsoever to do with Kudo. I have responded to police asking for removal of goats and sheep from various unusual urban areas, including Hialeah, Coral Gables and the campuses of FIU and Barry University among other places. I have been told, by the police, that these are Santeria animals that have escaped. Maybe the police are wrong. All I know is I can attest that these animals I've personally (and legally) rescued have been starving, they are filthy and they are terrified. This is not good and if, as Pichardo states, there is no animal abuse involved in Santeria, perhaps he would be well served to help investigate the practices within his community to make sure that no one is getting "sloppy" about the treatment of the animals before and during the ritual slaughter. If these animals are, instead, victims of some other Afro-Cuban religion that does abuse and torture animals, perhaps we have common ground with Pichardo and he would join forces with those of us who both respect religious freedom but have no patience whatsoever for those animals being abused.

Pichardo states that Santeria practitioners are legally allowed to dispose of animal remains in the wild. Does that include disposing of remains in the legally protected environmentally sensitive wetlands that provide our drinking water? Also, I've been following this and other threads for days now. Santeria practitioners have been saying that the slaughtered animals are eaten as part of the ceremony. So which is true? Are they eaten or not? If they are eaten why are whole carcasses turning up in wetlands? I might add that practitioners of Santeria need not acquire their sacrificial animals from illegal, brutal slaughter operations. There is still one, absolutely legal slaughter house operating in the C-9 Basin that routinely passes USDA inspections. Why not do the right thing and get the animals from there?

Ocala
Ocala

animals shouldn't be bred to be sacrificed or tortured by religious radicals OR ANY ONE ELSE. Sick world

netherlands
netherlands

Good job all, I think they may have finally realized that defending their madness is a loosing battle and they have retreated. They have probably reverted to making little paper mache dolls of Animal rights advocates and are busy chanting at it and sticking needles in it, LOL.

KudoSupporter
KudoSupporter

The hateful ones are the ones sacrificing the animals and threatening Cuoto. Animal sacrifice and torture goes way beyond religious freedom.

StephanieSellers
StephanieSellers

Stephanie Sellers https://sites.google.com/site/... America's small animals have complex county support w/shelters. Horses do not. All they have is hope and it rests in our hands. Send your petitions to Congress. It's the only way to change the course of horse history for the better. Nobody wants the likes of EP near our horses. Fair taxing can lesson chances by creating funds for horse officials in each county with shelters and sanctuaries. We must start at the top. Send your petitions. They must be postal mailed. Please.

MorganLvr
MorganLvr

Hmmm.... Considering who is getting the death threats, it would seem that Mr. Cudo is on the receiving end of hate speech, not the other way round. I personally find animal "sacrifice" revolting, cruel, and find it shameful that so-called enlightened people still practice it. "But it's their religion!" As far as I'm concerned, that's a pretty sad reason for cruelty, and gives religion as a whole a bad name. Just think of all the atrocities that have been perpetrated over the centuries in the name of one "religion" or another. We are not still in the Middle Ages - are we?

jaydie
jaydie

very amusing that people cry about animal sarifice and then sit down to eat their steak.

Danceagain80
Danceagain80

I think people use Religion to do what it is they want to do anyway. God, has taken the blame for century's, for people being Evil, and wanting a cause to put it on.

religion is about MAN NOT GOD!

This suttle bleeding, I would suspect is just as Humane as this so called "Humane Slaughter of our Equine" it's NOT happening the way they pretend it is. This is just to justify and clear their conscious, not to mention provide them with amo to do the Evil things they really want to do..

I hate to say this folks, but this is AMERICA. We don't do things like that in our Country; and if that is your life "style" then maybe you so go back home. I know we have Freedom of Religion, but there is a limit to all of this! Heck, maybe I could murder someone, and call it my Religions believes.. Give me a break. It's my guess we will have to reclaim America AGAIN!

Your a gues in our county, just like if you where a guest in our home. You are the guest, you adapt to the owner of the home, not the other way around. if you don't like our laws, then don't epect to come into this country and re arrange our laws to suit you.... Go back home...

Krslafferty
Krslafferty

I will always defend Richard "Kudo" Couto...he stands for the voiceless among us and he is a valued hero for the four-legged creatures...keep up the good work Richard!!!...No more pain, No more senseless killing, No more abuse....Thank you Richard for all that you do to protect the animals in our midst...Christine

Jolanta Sobecka
Jolanta Sobecka

Like us, EVERY animal has only one mortal life that he holds dear. No animal will ever give his consent to be killed. In anyone, who is able to take away a life or participate in taking a life and be OK with it, sense of morality and compassion is long gone - so I agree completely with netherlands' comment above that this debate is unequal since people who have no empathy are throwing their arguments against those who have feelings without having a clue what they are talking about. Racism or religion is an easy way out from the real issue, which is the heinous killings of animals. Judging by some comments here, there is a lot of insane people in this world and the next scary thing is that those people are reproducing - just a thought... All attacks here against Kudo are based on the fear that he is powerful enough to put an end to the barbaric killings in C-9 basin. Unlike his opponents, Kudo gathers his evidence methodically before presenting them to law enforcement and to the public. He never accused anyone of anything if the evidence werent' there to support it. Authorities respect his work and they trust him as well as the army of supporters who stand behind him. If you are the one who overpowers an animal, abuse him and kill him to satisfy your sick sadistic tendencies in the name of religion or otherwise, you know Richard Kudo is coming after you, so I can understand the fear. Many people who commented here have their ideas so mixed up that I wonder where they got their facts from. OniOni writes that 'God created us with meat eating teeth' - please watch Gary Yourofsky's lectures and learn why humans are not meant to be carnivors. JESSIE ACE03 talking about killings: 'We do it in a respectful manner' - and I say the very nature of killing is the lack of respect for the life of other's. Gablegirl wrote that slaughter of her animals was done: 'Humanely and respectfully and painlessly' - no slaughter is either humane, nor respecful, nor painless; please look up the facts. A very good point and very well said by netherlands that tables can turn on us - it is not a far fetched possibility, indeed, It can happen and what we, blood thirsty people, would do then? - WE HUMANS WHO DEMAND MERCY FOR OURSELVES, BUT HAVE NONE FOR THOSE BELOW US...

Catwoman
Catwoman

I stand behind Kudo, whose hearts work, is for the care & ultimate good for the animals....

Gamountaincwby
Gamountaincwby

A swift knife cut to an animal's carotid artery isn't "torture"? I'd like to see that done to that Cuban freak and his demonic form of voo-doo religion. That's not religion, that's freakish. Pichardo is commiting crimes here and should be deported back to Cuba, Couto is doing the work the cops failed at doing properly.

DC from New Jersey
DC from New Jersey

What many people seem to be misinterpreting is… NO animal should be sacrificed even the Havana-born Pichardo states “Our faith recognizes that every animal has a soul” exactly and that soul deserves not to die for sacrificial practices. Personally, it does not matter if it is a pigeon or a dog it does not deserve to die… Private property with trespassing signs does not give anyone the right to do this to an animal. What needs to be done is to abolish any sacrificial killings in the United States (all states!) and strong monetary penalties, jail time and revocation of religious practices of any priest who does it… Yes, I am a vegan now because I do not believe any animal deserves their life to be taken away even for human consumption. Pichardo calls it a hate crime well many people would say if you kill an animal, child or individual there is a deep seeded hate, evil, cruelty in that individual’s soul to harm, hurt or kill is wrong for any reason . What people are failing to understand is Richard Couto would go after any religious organization or individual in general who causes harm, cruelty or death to an animal why can’t everyone understand this… he is not targeting them unless they are killing or torturing animals and they killed animals and he now receives death threats that is a disgrace and mentally so wrong on many levels.

netherlands
netherlands

We assume that we have more rights than other species for the simple fact that we have more intelligence and we have more power. Under this ideology, we should have no problem with an alien race coming down to butcher, torture and terrorize us, if they appeared to be of superior intelligence to us.If they would do what they wished, without any concern for our pain or suffering, if they would take our freedom, separate us from our families, put us in tiny cages, slaughter and butcher us, exploit us, experiment on us, sacrifice us, and go so far as torture us for their entertainment- in short- If they would treat us exactly in the ways in which we treat other living breathing species- what would we think of them? Would you say they were an intelligent species, a caring species, would we call them civilized?

Do you think that a few of the aliens would be compassionate and start to stand up for us and fight for human rights? And do you think the rest of the aliens would feel threatened by those few? Do you think that they would call them crazy, because they just did not want to have their alien rights infringed upon?

Maybe, if we would be very lucky, those compassionate few would be brave and steadfast and not ever give up. All we could do is hope that they would keep fighting for justice one battle at a time. That they would keep talking to the others and that maybe one day, their numbers would get large enough and they would be able to convince the rest.

Convince them that we have feelings, even though they do not understand our language,.. that we are part of the whole and they are not the only ones,... that we have rights, even though our intelligence is not the same,...................................................................... and that just because they can, it doesn’t mean they have the right.

Defend the defenseless, for it is not so far fetched that it could be us one day.

netherlands
netherlands

This is a debate between the selfish and the unselfish, respect for life and disrespect for life, heartlessness and compassion, people who work hard every day to make the world a better place, and people who make it worse just by being in it, its a debate between good versus evil.

Check your facts
Check your facts

Look, we're not saying that what he uncovered is fine.. We are saying leave us the hell out of it , it had NOTHING NADA to do with Santeria. He is referencing Santeria as a way to 'sensationalize' his little crusade and dumb Joe Public is eating it up, as he predicted and counted on. And from the posts i am seeing his underestimations of the intelligence of his public were: absolutely correct. smh

jennifer f
jennifer f

If you people from other countries can come here and torture/ sacrifice animals in the name of your cult/ religion maybe we should again start hanging witches! take your voodoo,santeria BS AND GO HOME!!!!

Carolina
Carolina

I am reading the comments to this article and I am so at a loss for words really. How ignorant people are!Honestly, I think the root of all this hate mongering and abuse is racism. I really do. It''s really another case of Western, Euro-centric, white people feeling culturally and morally superior to what they consider primitive, backwards, Third World practices and/or beliefs. This is more than just about animals "rights" or whatever.

Carolina
Carolina

Debate? You cannot debate someone like Couto. It would give his outlandish claims validity. What he says and does is NOT valid by any stretch of the imagination.

Yahola
Yahola

So, your so called "religion", is gathering the masses together to celebrate the taking of the life of one of the creator's creatures, that I'm quite sure doesn't willingly participate in the specticle. You then ceremoniously dismember and eat it. This is cruel and evil and you're blind, brainwashed or both if you don't see it. My religion celebrates love and life. Richard Couto and the rescuers are putting the spotlight on the true agenda of cruelty here and you keep trying to turn it around to to say the rescuers are doing wrong. Face it. Santeria and religions like it are dark and celebrate death. I choose the light and to celebrate life. I'm sure one of you will start pushing that spotlight around at me writing that I am a vegetarian, republician, bigot, racist, or some other name I've read on here to try to divert that spotlight. I don't care. Pure and simple, you celebrate death by killing a creature, dismembering and consuming an unwilling participant. Then you dump what is left of that creature, no longer "celebrated" off someplace. That's just sick and twisted. And you wonder why people don't want to show their identies on here and have you come skulking around their places and kill their animals. Enough said. You people just don't get it.

tygerlilly1109
tygerlilly1109

lol at people who still practice Santeria.. i'm pretty sure science has ruled out the need for animal sacrifice so that the gods may bring you the gift of rain. and if it helps, lol at all religions who believe the same. Get a life, get a job, get a hobby (that doesn't include animal sacrifice... stop being a creeper! ) I don't care if you pick a new religion. I understand that you feel cool that you are like the creepy kid from the new version of Halloween but I guarantee it isn't helping you pick up chicks. It is disgusting, if you haven't heard, the issue here is the disgusting dead animals you leave all over the place. If you don't like it, I hear Cuba is recruiting. Laws are laws, stop crying. As for the "high priest", look at the guy.. Do you REALLY want him to be your religious leader? Because I'm pretty sure him and the Catholic priests are running around touching little boys. And worst case scenario, do your "gods" a favor and kill yourself. I guarantee it would be the best sacrifice ever! Then maybe you'll finally be one of the cool kids. And yes burgers are delicious. But at least the butchers recycle the remains. and don't give the crap response of "well we use it all", if that were so, then Couto wouldn't be going around cleaning up your disgusting mess you leave all over the place. And I seriously doubt the issue here is the "trespassing" situation. It's more like the stink being left. You know you COULD go check his facebook... He's got his videos of all the crap he's finding. Educate yourself people!

Kram
Kram

Go back to cuba in the USA we love animals.

Esubi21
Esubi21

THIS PERSON HAS MADE IT HIS LIFE WORK TO DESTORY OUR CHARACTOR AND LIFESTYLE. WE ARE NOT ALWAYS USING ANIMALS IN OUR TRADITION. WE COOK AND OFFER FRUITS AND DRINKS TO OUR BELIEFS, WE COME TOGETHER TO SING AND DANCE AND FAMILY REUNION. WE ARE LOVING PEOPLE PRASING TO GOD FOR ALL HE DONE FOR US. KUDOS SHOULD GO TO JAIL FOR BREAKING ENTERING PEOPLES PROPERTIES. THE PICTURES HE SET UP , WITH HE HATRED FOR WHAT HE DOESNOT UNDERSTAND. SHAME FOR HARMING GOOD PEOPLE.

Lee
Lee

Richard is doing a WONDERFUL job of stopping animal cruelty. And those of YOU are killing innocent animals should be in jail. Murder is murder! You don't stab a person in the throat and tell the judge, "Oh I'm sorry but they didn't suffer. I was only doing what my religion calls for." NO! if you murder a human, its murder. If you murder an animal for your own sick purposes, its animal cruelty. Plain and simple. This is America. There are other ways of expressing your religion then that! Not only are you murdering, but you're brainwashing your children who come into this world to the same thing and THAT is just as sick. Have some morals or get out of America. To stab a defenseless animal and watch as their eyes become lifeless and to be okay with yourself after that is disgusting. You people are sick.

Jim
Jim

Nice to hear a rational, calm response. I agree with Year in White, and have had this discussion with my Padrino--all animals that aren't eaten should be disposed of in an area where they will only be discovered by other animals, and they should not be in plastic bags, paper bags will disintegrate and allow other animals to get to them faster.

We use a local farm to get our animals--they are treated better there than most slaughter houses I have seen. We actually feed them and treat them very humanely before the sacrifice, and personally, I thank them for giving their life for me, before they die. I do not, nor do I know anyone, who enjoys the act of sacrifice. It is a small part of the religion, we do what we have to do, but we do not enjoy the act of killing ANY animal.

There will always be sickos in any religion or group of people. If anyone is found to be torturing animals they should be prosecuted by the law. Those of us in the religion agree on that. People who enjoy torturing animals are sick, and need help, and /or punishment.

Also, just a quick note. Dogs used to be sacrificed in Africa, but typically are not in America. Cats have never been a part of Santeria--there is not a single Orisha that I am aware of that asks for cats, and I have never heard of anyone involved in Santeria sacrificing a cat. I have also never seen a single sacrifice of a dog, and don't know of anyone doing it these days. There may be individuals sacrificing dogs and cats, but they aren't typical, and are not representative of our religion---they are folks "making it up as they go along" and likely are not a part of any valid Santeira house or group.

Year In White
Year In White

Thanks for commenting. It was interesting hearing some additional background on Kudo.

"If these animals are, instead, victims of some other Afro-Cuban religion that does abuse and torture animals, perhaps we have common ground with Pichardo and he would join forces with those of us who both respect religious freedom but have no patience whatsoever for those animals being abused."

That's a wonderful suggestion. You probably know Kudo better than others on here might. Perhaps you could comment on whether the folks commenting here on his behalf are a good representation of his cause or not. I'm definitely a bit biased, but with the animosity I've seen so far by the supporters, it's hard to feel like any involvement or show of support from anyone associated with Santeria (or other ATRs) would be welcomed.

"Pichardo states that Santeria practitioners are legally allowed to dispose of animal remains in the wild. Does that include disposing of remains in the legally protected environmentally sensitive wetlands that provide our drinking water?"

Legally, no clue. But most of us try to dispose of remains in a way that's both respectful to the religion AND to the community. If it's left out in the woods, for instance, it would be in an area where most people aren't going to stumble upon it and will just be found by other animals, insects, etc.

"Also, I've been following this and other threads for days now. Santeria practitioners have been saying that the slaughtered animals are eaten as part of the ceremony. So which is true? Are they eaten or not? If they are eaten why are whole carcasses turning up in wetlands?"

Like with most religions, the answer can be summed up with two words: "It Depends." :) When they are used in a ceremony that's for a blessing, offering, etc., they are cooked and eaten by the people in the ceremony (with the leftover food going to people's homes or otherwise shared). When the ceremony is for the removal of "bad stuff" (illness or whatever). The animal is viewed as having given its life in exchange for taking on whatever needed removing and so it is disposed of rather than being eaten. Stuff like this, someone in the religion might see a few times any given year. We aren't sacrificing animals to cure the sniffles or get some girl to think we're cute. It's typically for more major stuff. Just as some pray to God if their child is sick or if they are in need, it's the same with Santeria.

"I might add that practitioners of Santeria need not acquire their sacrificial animals from illegal, brutal slaughter operations. There is still one, absolutely legal slaughter house operating in the C-9 Basin that routinely passes USDA inspections. Why not do the right thing and get the animals from there?"

Definitely! I typically go to local farms, myself. These are animals that would've ended up on the dining room table anyhow. I'm not sure if the animals from slaughter houses (legal ones, like you mention, or otherwise) could even be used, though, to be honest. I've never been to one, but wouldn't you just buy the already-dead animal from them? If so, that wouldn't be something we could use. The idea behind an animal sacrifice is that you're having to, well, sacrifice... It means letting go of something of value. Believe me, if I could use some boneless skinless chicken breasts from the grocery store, I would! ;) But, yeah, either way... there are definitely legal options for people who need animals. Even though (and especially because) they are going to be sacrificed, the animals should be treated humanely and with respect. No one within the religion should tolerate anything less.

Danceagain80
Danceagain80

Are you guy's REALLY THIS STUPID????????????????

netherlands
netherlands

Reclaim America, im going with that.

Danceagain80
Danceagain80

How about if you take a knife and with a swift cut we cut your carotid Artery! Ok! for Religious sake,.............. You ready!

Danceagain80
Danceagain80

We don't do all of that in this country. This is America, if you don't like our laws, then go back Home....

Danceagain80
Danceagain80

I agree with Netherlands whole heartily. If you can put it out there, then let's see if you can take it.. Just old fashion Karma. Just because we are the Dominant species, or so we think we are, doesn't give us the right to be abusive. We can also choice to be caretakers.

Whatever your Religious beliefs are, if they denote, and abuse other beings, then it is just an excuse and a justification to do what you want to do anyway.

As I have already said, This is AMERICA, we don't do things that way. If you are here to exploit our laws to your advantage, then please, go back where you came from. Were not interested, and we will just have to rewrite our laws, to accommodate, your exploitation of our laws, lands and resources...

If you notice, it's our Country that constantly deals with "Others' beating down our borders to get in. No other Country is so attack by foreigners as or Country is..

You are Guest in oiur Country, now act like it!

DC from New Jersey
DC from New Jersey

What you are missing is everything points to Santeria perhaps domestic animals are not suppose to be used but as I have said before there are bad apples in every bunch of religion. What Richard Couto does is collect evidence, research the property, claims and gets down to the bottom of what is going on then brings it to the attention of the proper authorities. Yes he carries a weapon and rightly so for his own protection anyone would be stupid not to...I was married to a police officer for many years, worked in law for over 15 years this is what you do you collect evidence, research, raid and rescue. Torturing is wrong, killing is wrong you said they are not tortured I have a quizzical look on my face at how you can honestly say that as they smell death, they are being skinned, cut their throats and so on I don't care if their eaten not it should not be taken place. It has to stop, I wish there were 1000's of Richard Coutos out there...

Check your facts
Check your facts

We are home dear, and we are protected by the US Supreme court Now.unless you are a 100% Native American Indian.. why don't YOU take your ancestors 'from other countries', religion and traditions and 'go home' also we likely wont miss 'you' people either ;)

netherlands
netherlands

Religion is supposed to be about making the world a better place, finding peace by living a righteous life and about recognizing the needs of others, NOT about chasing and gaining imaginary blessings and benefits to yourself by hurting and killing others, even if they are a different species. How much more selfish and self centered and self righteous and self consuming can one get I wonder? To think there are gods in the sky, looking down asking you somehow to kill something so that you will receive some kind of benefit…. Unbelievable that you are willing to believe that. I can come up with no other word than just plain insane.

Wouldnt it just be a real bummer for you guys if it was exactly the other way around, and every inch of pain you have inflicted comes back to you on your hour, or days of death. We all dont know do we, until that time comes. That's the only real truth that no one can dispute. We just all really dont know what is the right religion, belief or truth. Its just all in our complicated wondereous human minds.

Yahola
Yahola

I AM NATIVE AMERICAN! Educate yourselves and check out what has been uncovered in these investigations! Look at the photos of the mangled animals of various species. They did not die happy dignified deaths. Stamping the word religion on it and hiding behind it while pointing your fingers at us does NOT make it right. It was bad enough when the first round of people came to MY country and forced their religions and language on my ancestors. I'm am completely disgusted by this round with their lowly view of life. You people need to educate yourselves and quit pushing your ways on us. Better yet, leave MY country!

Danceagain80
Danceagain80

Well I'm betting he's going to get rid of you guy's, here's hoping. We don't want you in America, This is our country, and you need to respect OUR laws, and OUR Customs. If you don't like, then go back from where came from. Since you think your way is so wonderful, then go back there. We don't want your Religion practiced here, we don't care how much you think your right, or that you have the right to practice this here. We don't want this here, and we will get rid of it. Richard is support by America not you guys................

netherlands
netherlands

You are funny tygerlilly, r u a friend of mine on fb?

tygerlilly1109
tygerlilly1109

Also, did i miss the memo that "bigot" is the new word and insult to use? I understand you may have learned a new "big people word" but it's getting ridiculous! though it makes for a great thing to laugh at this late at night.

Lee
Lee

You think Richard is atacking your religion and that is NOT what is going on. Please by all means practice what religion you so desire but don't hurt or kill innocent animals in the process! Why can't you proceed to cook and offer fruits and drinks while you celebrate instead of killing animals?!

Loki
Loki

No, actually Couto has not made it his life work to destory your character and lifestyle...that, you are doing yourself by killing innocent animals in the name of your religion. And it is YOU that should go to jail for KILLING innocent animals in the name of destroying your character and lifestyle. You want Couto to go to jail for breaking and entering...far worse to take a soul that is NOT yours to take...YOU GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL FOR THAT and YOU take responsibility for destroying your own religion and character by killing in the name of your religion. Shame for harming good animals and now trying to blame good people for your own wrong doing. You are preaching your own form of hatred by KILLING!

Ensoul2002
Ensoul2002

I see!!....every conversation with you white people ends in...."get out of America" plain simple all is racism!! I am not going to waste another minute of my time with Ignorants as yourself..

Silver Wolf
Silver Wolf

I am Native American and I don't have a problem with any religion in this country that respects life. Your religion revolves around death. It does not exist unless death takes place. That is dark, demonic & Satanic. DO NOT push your evil ways and evil religion on me or anyone else. We DO NOT wish to be a part of this darkness. Get your fingers out of your ears and open your eyes and let this information sink into your tightly closed minds. My people and the other religions here celebrate life and we strive to better ourselves. We wish to ascend to a higher and purer spiritual plane. You obviously do not realize it, but we consider you evil. Go back to your island origin. You are not welcome here. No one wants to be like you or celebrate your cruel horrible religion with you. Nor do we wish to associate with the likes of you. This has absolutely nothing to do with bigotry, racism, Christianity, being a Republican or Democrat, a vegetarian, Athiest, etc. This has to do your sacrificing animals and honoring death. Watch the door doesn't slam you in the backside as you leave. Don't bother to come back for any visits. We won't miss you in the least and we sure don't want to see you ever again! DO YOU PEOPLE FINALLY GET IT, YET???

DC from New Jersey
DC from New Jersey

No you are not protected by US Supreme Court obviously you have no college education, no law training and are not a lawyer, judge or supreme court justice. And that case that priest is talking about well we in the law field call that "case law" and the next case can be lost so....you are not 100% protected. Killing animals for sacrifical reasons is horrific, and I am against any religion that allows that to take place.

Danceagain80
Danceagain80

Ensoul2002, OK if you need it on those terms, whatever will get rid of this horrible thing you call Religion... Please, go away your not welcomed in America with that Religion.. Racism or whatever you want to call itl...

DC from New Jersey
DC from New Jersey

the comment "you white people" speaks volumes of racisim. Bottom Line it is about killing animals we are against.

Lee
Lee

It has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with murder. I say get out of this country if you choose to kill animals because you're only making society worse whether you're black, white, indian, asian, or whatever race you may be.

Tygerlilly1109
Tygerlilly1109

lol. im pretty sure everyone here isn't white (please see below). your comment about racism is RACIST!! awesome... purely awesome..

Yahola
Yahola

I'm not white. I'm Native American. Racism has nothing to do with it. You need to educate yourself. Maybe you do not personally see anything wrong in killing an animal, but those that are raised in this type of environment become numb to seeing death. They torture and kill animals for the fun of it and then move on to humans. That, is a proven fact. In the Native American culture "ALL LIFE IS SACRED; TREAT ALL BEINGS WITH RESPECT". If you are going to kill a creature to feed yourself and your family that is one thing, and you must be thankful. If you are killing just to torture and kill, that is quite another. This is a growing problem in Florida. I've seen the disgusting photos and the arrest photos of the guilty. I can't understand how this doesn't bother you. You seriously need to consider going back to wherever you came from. Cruelty and killing go hand in hand and protecting it seems to be a theme here in the name of religion. Religion should be a way to bring about a better and purer self. How can taking the life of a living, breathing being put here by the Creator make you a better person? As I said earlier, you need to educate yourself on the cruelty out there and help to stop it or please, just leave.

Solar Power54
Solar Power54

This is very well said. To the murderers out there, stop and read this post. You have become brainwashed and are causing fear and pain to innocent animals on this earth. STOP IT. Do you not see the fear in their eyes? Do you not feel sadness as they gasp for their last breath wondering why them? Does this give you some kind of thrill? STOP IT. I will back Richard in anyway possible and I praise him for his difficult work. If you are such a kind and loving people, why not help other creatures? If you are such a caring group, why are you sneaking around and murdering the animals we should all be protecting. The very fact that you find fault with Richard's publicizing of what he has found, clearly indicates to my mind that you don't care about the cruelty that is happening to animals. These are NOT your animals to kill. Please get professional help and stop believing in some messed up outdated cruel tradition that serves no purpose other than to feed your own ego. STOP THE KILLING OF ANIMALS. Grow some oranges and offer those up at your next hoe down. PLEASE, pause and look and THINK about the pain you are inflicting. You call this religion? I call it BS.

Lee
Lee

Well said Yahola.

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