The Santeria Priest vs. the Animal Rights Activist, Part 2

Categories: News
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In February, after I posted photos that renegade animal rights activist Richard "Kudo" Couto claimed were evidence of brutal animal sacrifices, I was beckoned to the Hialeah office of Oba Ernesto Pichardo. The Santería high priest took a 1993 case involving animal sacrifices all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. When he met with me, Pichardo said Couto was practicing "hate speech" and demanded his arrest for breaking various laws.

I knew that Pichardo was tape-recording our interview, but I didn't know he was going to broadcast it on an online radio station in a segment called "How to Strong Hold the Media 101".

Unless you happen to have more than three hours free, I wouldn't recommend listening to the entire broadcast. But I did listen to parts of the program -- on which Pichardo spoke after our "interview" had aired -- and the most surprising part is this: Apparently the priest was restraining himself when we first spoke. On the radio, he accused Riptide of "yellow journalism," called Couto and his supporters "freaks," and urged listeners to "talk to your Orishas" -- religious deities -- and tell them: "Look, there's a guy down here in Miami, and this is what he's doing."

Pichardo continued:

If this guy wants to be educated, I'm not a therapist. I'm not a psychiatrist. I'm an orisha worshipper. Shango throws thunder stones at people and stuff like that, you know. He doesn't go around doing psychotherapy. You call upon the fire; then you deal with the fire. Here I am. I'm dressed in red.

RADIO HOST: Red and white. Yes.

No, no, I took out the white. I'm dressed in red on an overdose of steroids. I will put some white later when I need to calm down.

RADIO HOST: Spiritual steroids, yes.

Meanwhile, Couto -- the target of Pichardo's religious 'roid rage -- blithely posted three new photos on his 4,600-follower Facebook page. His comment and the photos are below:

‎3 dogs were found sacrificed today by an ARM investigator in Miami, Florida. All dogs were headless and many bones broken. The dogs i'm sure tortured for sometime before death. The heads were not found. ARM is investigating.
kudodog1.jpg
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27 comments
arm
arm

ARM didnt send the newtimes all 3 pix of the 3 dogs sacrificed at first.... our bad i guess

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

Mr Garcia-Roberts:

On ARM's facebook page, they claim the mistake with the three pictures is yours, not theirs. ARM wrote, "Welp this should clear it up..the newtimes did post a pic of the same dog twice....ooops! the third dog was just posted on this page. Happy Lele?" Basically, they're saying your reporting is inaccurate. And then they posted a third picture which they claim IS the third dog.

I saw the original three pictures they posted and they are the same three pictures you posted, so the error is theirs, not yours. But they're trying to place the blame on you. You can go check for yourself. This makes me further doubt ALL of their claims.

I just thought you'd like to know. You might want to be a bit more careful when you're reporting on them. Claiming that you are making the mistakes instead of owning up to their own errors does make you look like a bad reporter, unless the reader uses his critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, not too many people do that anymore. Reputations have been ruined by less.

Stuart Myers/Ochani Lele

ted
ted

the third dog is on the arm fb page

SMH
SMH

I have been following this story from the beginning . It is very sad & disturbing to look at the pictures.But what's just as sad is how ppl believe everything they are told by this so called hero "KUDO". I have saved my pets from pounds where they claimed to love the animals so much , and in reality they were abusing and killing the animals for no reason. Who is this Rambo want to be? Anyone that would single out a religion and accuse them of committing such crimes against animals without proof , really needs to be questioned. I'm surprised how many followers this man has. The women that followed Charles Manson are dying to get out jail. Remember that story America, where that sicko had these women so brainwashed that they murdered innocent ppl.Is that not what Kudo is leading to? Allowing his followers to sit behind the computer and say "lets kill them , like they killed these poor dogs". Nothing this man Kudo says makes sense. Really America has it come to believing a man we know nothing about! How about we start investigating him. As you spend your days hating the ppl that practice a certain faith , there's someone out there getting his/ her kicks off by torturing these poor animals. Perhaps another Jeffrey Dahmer in the making. I'm all for saving the animals from abusers, but accusing a religion without proof is sick. I'm not one of you hypocrites that have a house full of animals, and turn a blind eye to the abused , starved children in America. I take care of both children & animals. THIS IS NOTHING MORE THEN THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS ALL OVER AGAIN! Don't expect me to come back and defend myself , after you brainwashed ppl come back at me with some nonsense. You ppl that follow Kudo & have no problem posting how human life should be hurt and killed are all sick.

SMH
SMH

I have been following this story from the beginning . It is very sad & disturbing to look at the pictures.But what's just as sad is how ppl believe everything they are told by this so called hero "KUDO". I have saved my pets from pounds where they claimed to love the animals so much , and in reality they were abusing and killing the animals for no reason. Who is this Rambo want to be? Anyone that would single out a religion and accuse them of committing such crimes against animals without proof , really needs to be questioned. I'm surprised how many followers this man has. The women that followed Charles Manson are dying to get out jail. Remember that story America, where that sicko had these women so brainwashed that they murdered innocent ppl.Is that not what Kudo is leading to? Allowing his followers to sit behind the computer and say lets kill them , like they killed theses poor dogs. Nothing this man Kudo says makes sense. Really America has it come to believing a man we know nothing about! How about we start investigating him. As you spend your days hating the ppl that practice a certain faith , there's someone out there getting his/ her kicks off by torturing these poor animals. Perhaps another Jeffrey Dahmer in the making. I'm all for saving the animals from abusers, but accusing a religion without proof is sick. I'm not one of you hypocrites that have a house full of animals , and turn a blind eye to the abused , starved children in America. I take care of both children & animals. THIS IS NOTHING MORE THEN THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS ALL OVER AGAIN! Don't expect me to come back and defend myself , after you brainwashed ppl come back at me with some nonsense. You ppl that follow Kudo & have no problem posting how human life should be hurt or killed are all sick.

Davidsoul720
Davidsoul720

This is just another attempt for ignorant people to remain just that, Maybe Picardo didnt represent himself well, maybe he was angrily dressed in red talking about hurling thunder maybe his human emotons took over.... What I would like to see is for people to think back to where their religion came from. So we sacrifice animals in the name of Gods you may not know, but "Christians" have sacrificed HUMAN lives in a name of a God most knew and some didnt care about. Lets read other books than the bible, and lets loof at things for what they are. Racism. ANything African myseterious, dark, bad...

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

My goodness. If you look at the photographs, you'll see that Mr. Couto has obtained some really BAD forensic evidence.

If you look at those photos CAREFULLY you'll notice that there aren't 3 separate dogs. Compare the first two pictures. The decomposition (look at the exposed ribs) is exactly the same in both pictures, AND they are against the same patch of vegetation. The angle at which they are shot, however, is different, and the body has been repositioned. In the third picture, if you look carefully the vegetation in the background looks like it might be the same as in the first two pictures, which makes me think the third body is the same body -- he just twisted it up.

If there WERE three different dogs found in that spot, why did Richard Couto not take a wide-angle view showing all three bodies in the same shot? That is, after all, how forensic evidence is photographed. One takes a picture of the entire scene, and then does closeups of each individual piece of evidence. Once again, it looks like a carefully staged setup. He found some old road kill and did a little creative posing for the pictures. He should be ashamed of himself.

Next time he finds "evidence" of a "crime" he should do what any law abiding citizen would do. Call 911 and not disturb the crime scene until the authorities arrive. Oh -- wait -- setting up a false crime scene is illegal, isn't it?

As a santero I issue a challenge to Mr. Couto -- next time you stumble across something like this, call the police and let them know a crime has been committed. And let THEM examine and photograph the evidence. I'm sure they'll let you take pictures of your own, and you'll have a real police report filed by professionals to back up your claims.

What you have, Mr. Couto, is falsification of evidence. And that's a crime in itself. What you have here is ROADKILL. And how do we know you didn't plant that yourself?

Oshun Dayo
Oshun Dayo

I believe the reason why Gus Garcia wouldn't recommend anyone listening to the entire broadcast is because Oba Pichardo had him on ice during the entire interview.Gus Garcia had no real answers, he was not articulate, and he seemed lost for whatever reason.I recommend everyone listen to this interview and make up their own minds if it's worth listening to.Oba Pichardo was most eloquent to say the least during the entire session.To those that believe that practioners of Santeria torture animals, this simply is not the case. These pictures of decapitated animals that are put up by Kudo and Garcia are for sensationalized purposes only. These practices are NOT done by practioners of Santeria. They really need to go point the finger at someone else.Here's the link to the interview on the H20 Network for those who are interested:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/t...

Don't be mad Gus....

Mrshawklady
Mrshawklady

you santeria freaks should run back to the heathan country you and your followers came from. you are the freaks, the in human jerks who dabble in evil crap. use your family members, many pets are like family to people, and you are murdering them. stupid idiotic, backward, blind, cowardly, and disgusting. this is 2011. this crap should no longer happen except in backward countries, third world places who are ignorant heathans.

Jeanette
Jeanette

Gus, I actually heard that "interview." I thought to myself, "Gus, stick to writing." Now I understand. You thought you were interviewing Pichardo. Instead, you were the interviewee. Having been an interviewer myself, I know the trick of being a good interviewer is to keep quiet and let the other guy do the talking. But he tricked you and you ended up sounding (when you spoke at all) like a dope. Oh, and I know when you refer to Kudo as a "renegade" you mean that only in the best way. Right?

Jo-Claire
Jo-Claire

This guy is a crackpot, they abuse animals under the guise of religion and that is wrong and should not be tolerated. Supreme Court be damned. Freedom of Religion does not give you the right to abuse children or animals.

GusGarciaRoberts
GusGarciaRoberts

No worries, Ochani. I've had far worse criticism than that. Thanks for looking out though.

blah
blah

HERE HERE! <3How loud will we scream back at our attackers before applying ourselves to a campaign which flips the perception of whats goin on in peoples minds around? Reaction-ism and being defensive will only fan Couto's fires, and play into the media's game of making an ass outta people who don't wear suits and work on wall street. Honestly, were better than that shamans. Couto is speaking hate to idiots who will never hear the winds of god cause thier houses are sealed up tight. Why get hot and scared, why not drop the whole modern world on its ass, and search for a way to show others who and what Orisha REALLY are. Talk all we want, if we can't find a way to show what ATR's ARE, we will spend forever only fighting people who paint that picture for us. Word.

As a side note, I DO love how cool headed most of these posts are.

Davidsoul720
Davidsoul720

What country would that be the one that was stolen form the Natives already here?

Osun's Puppy
Osun's Puppy

its funny... i eat shills like you for breakfast... go find a non-local spiritual particle to bother...

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

I've been a member of this faith since 1989. I became a priest in 2003. In 22 years of faithful practice, never once have I seen or heard of a dog, cat, or other pet being sacrificed. And for the record, I've nurtured animal rescues in the past, and I'm the proud caretaker of a beautiful Shih Tzu who was on his way to a dog pound 3 years ago -- that little man is the joy of my life!

While I am fond of the work he's done with horses, I think Mr. Couto's obsession with the Lucumi faith borders on sensationalism for financial reasons -- his own. Public record searches have been done, and it's public record that he has IRS issues to the tune of 30,000 plus dollars. I've seen the documents; tax leins have been issued. And there's some question regarding the legality of owning and running a not-for-profit when under IRS leins. But I'm not a lawyer, and I'm no expert on law. I only know what's circulating in the community.

Before you get caught up in Mr. Couto's latest campaign, use your critical thinking skills. Take a long, hard look at the pictures he's posting, especially the three recent pictures he professes to be three separate dogs. And do a public records search on his financial issues. It's all a matter of public record, and anyone can have access to them. Once you've done all that, ask yourself what his real motivation behind attacking an ancient faith might be?

My personal opinion is that his current attacks are financially motivated. And whether or not you believe, personally, that his crusade is right, the right thing done for the wrong reasons is still wrong. People need to look a bit deeper at this man -- you might be surprised what you find.

Or maybe you won't. But I want you to know one thing out of all this -- we do NOT sacrifice dogs, or cats, or any animal traditionally thought of as a pet. The animals we sacrifice are food -- chickens, roosters, goats -- agricultural animals. There is no torture involved. We went though all these issues in the 80s and 90s; it's an open and shut case, and there is a ton of material out there that anyone can read if they want to know what we REALLY do.

Mr. Couto, it seems, has not a clue. Life goes on.

GusGarciaRoberts
GusGarciaRoberts

Well, he was too much of a renegade for the South Florida SPCA.

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

You're quite welcome. If nothing else, I hope after all this your readers understand one thing -- while companion animal abuse is a horrible thing (I'm a happy pet owner myself: dog, cat, and fish), what santeros do has nothing to do with what ARM is promoting. We don't sacrifice dogs. We don't sacrifice cats. There is no danger of your local neighborhood santero sneaking into your yard after dark to cart away your horse, dog, or cat for religious purposes. People might not like what we do, but what we do has nothing to do with what ARM is sensationalizing.

Thanks for letting me post so freely!

Stuart Myers/Ochani Lele

blah
blah

Golly gee darnit dad, doesn't THAT one look like a helicopter??? ^^^

Jeanette
Jeanette

Actually, Gus, Kudo resigned for our protection after death threats started coming in and another "whistleblower" was seriously beaten.

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

Mr Gus-Garcia:

Since you are monitoring this blog, I have another question about your reporting for you. Falling back on the belief that journalism is meant to be honest and accurate, I would like to know more about your statement where you said Mr. Couto was a ". . . renegade animal rights activist . . ." In your post above, you say he ". . . was too much of a renegade for the South Florida SPCA." While on a personal level I would love to believe that statement about Mr. Couto, as a reporter you are duty and honor-bound to report the facts, and nothing but the facts. If you do, as a reporter, offer an opinion then you must base that opinion on facts. Anything less is not journalism.

So I ask you -- why is Mr. Couto considered a renegade by the South Florida SPCA? What are the facts that back up that statement?

Also, I'd like you to see this rebuttal to Mr. Couto and ARM. Please go to the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Sa...

Also, if you want a REAL news story, I suggest you take a look at the IRS tax lein against Mr. Couto (the judgement is public record) and then take a look at his not-for-profit's books. Is he even allowed to run a not-for-profit while under an IRS tax lein? You want a big story? I think you should look there.

Ochani Lele

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

PS: Mr. Garcia-Roberts, I'm curious about something. You're a reporter, and you're trained to examine the facts before reporting on them, correct? Why did you not examine the picture of the "three dogs" more closely? Two of the dogs are very clearly the same dog -- they share the exact same decomposition on the ribs and the exact same markings on the legs. Plus, the vegetation in both pictures appears to be the same. Only the dog has been repositioned. And that makes the claim about the "third" dog shaky as well. I'm sending copies of the picture to a friend who is an anthropologist trained in forensics, but I'm sure she will draw the same conclusions -- the first two dogs most certainly ARE the same repositioned in the same location, which makes the third suspect as well. Weren't these things noticeable to you as a trained reporter?

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

He's also a vigilante. He carries and openly displays guns. It's a scare tactic. It's also illegal. Why he hasn't been arrested for that is a mystery.

Ochani Lele
Ochani Lele

Mr. Gus-Garcia:

He does claim that they are three separate dogs. In his own caption he wrote, "‎3 dogs were found sacrificed today by an ARM investigator in Miami, Florida. All dogs were headless and many bones broken. The dogs i'm sure tortured for sometime before death. The heads were not found. ARM is investigating."

That is what he wrote, it is not? One long, hard look shows that they are not three separate dogs. The wounds are the same. The markings on the legs are the same. The vegetation is the same. That alone, logically, makes his entire claim that they are "sacrificed" dogs suspect.

Thanks so much for your replies, by the way. I really do appreciate it!

Stuart Myers/Ochani Lele

GusGarciaRoberts
GusGarciaRoberts

I don't think that Kudo claimed that they were photos of three separate dogs. And I made no claim one way or the other as to the veracity of Kudo's claims.

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