Greyhound racers, cultists on the run in Brazil

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1993:

SÅO PAULO, Brazil––As of January, the Brazilian
humane group Uniao em defesa das baleias/Uniao em defsa da
natureza had no files on greyhound racing. Then, president Ana
Maria Pinheiro told ANIMAL PEOPLE, “Dino Miraglia imported
30 greyhounds from New England.”
Quick to investigate, Pineiro obtained thick dossiers on
greyhound racing and training as practiced in the U.S. from the
World Society for the Protection of Animals, translated the materi-
als into Portugese, “invited the press, and had a meeting with the
attorney general,” who is empowered to enforce the Brazilian
humane laws.

The attorney general promptly “called Mr. Miraglia to his
office,” Pinheiro continued, and obliged him to “sign a commit-
ment declaring that he will not keep the animals in cages, that he
will not encourage the dogs to run with the use of live animals, and
he will not by any means engage himself in gambling. The animals
will be examined periodically by veterinarians designated by the
League for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, located in Belo
Horizonte, capital of the State of Minas Gerais,” whose president
is attorney Edna Cardozo Dias.”
But Miraglia, who had already presented one race in Belo
Horizonte, sponsored by Coca-Cola, was not about to give up. He
threatened to sue Pinheiro and her organization for defamation.
Cardozo Dias, however, presented the judge with an article about
Miraglia’s greyhound investment from the Boston G l o b e, “in
which he explained himself all that we had declared of him.”
Miraglia is apparently still seeking a permit to hold grey-
hound races from the Ministry of Agriculture, but is now opposed
by 70 organizations.
Meanwhile, Pinheiro wrote, “We wish to inform you that
ANIMAL PEOPLE played a very important role. As we were
getting our documents ready for presentation to the attorney gener-
al, the very eve, we received ANIMAL PEOPLE. We intended
to leave it aside and read it later. But something made us open it.”
The issue included a brief item noting that as betting receipts
decline in New England, breeders are looking to Brazil as a new
source of profits. “We clipped the news,” Pinheiro went on,
“translated it, called attention to it with our colored pens, and the
attorney general was very much impressed by those facts.
“We are also fighting against the use of animals in rites,”
Pinheiro noted. “Our Constitution bans cruel acts against animals
and allows freedom of religion ‘provided the laws be not disrespect-
ed.’ But as these ritual killings occur mainly indoors, in ‘sacred’
places called terreiros,” there is no effective enforcement of the
anti-cruelty law.
“Sometimes these cultists go to cemeteries,” Pinheiro
went on, “where they worship John Skull, the chief of the phalanx
that inhabits cemeteries, who is fond of bad deeds. Therefore this
deity receives many gifts like animals with their eyes pierced,
limbs severed, mouths stitched closed, or even sewn into other
animals. On Fridays many animals die, especially on Passover.”
The former mayor of Såo Paulo, a cultist himself,
opened bidding two years ago for the construction of 20 sacrificial
altars in public cemeteries. Backed by the press, the humane
groups petitioned the city superintendent of funeral services to
block the plan––which she did, at considerable personal risk.
“Now we have a new mayor,” Pinheiro said, “the former
mayor’s strongest opponent, and he promised us that he will never
allow such abominable constructions. We have been inspecting the
areas surrounding cemeteries, and we have found many improve-
Letters of thanks may be addressed to Paulo Maluf,
Mayor of Såo Paulo; Rua Costa Rica, 146; 01437-010 Såo Paulo,
SP; Brazil.
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