quinta-feira, 14 de abril de 2011


Photograph by Canindé Soares

Dear Friend,

Natal - capital of Rio Grande do Norte and one of the host cities for the World Cup 2014 -  is known for the paradise beaches and one of the most popular destinations for tourists coming to Brazil. But unfortunately, it is also one of the cities with the highest number of animal abuse in the country. An example is the plight of the draft animals that are used in carts that roam the city streets. In most cases these animals are starving, thirst and suffer from diseases and still are cruelly mistreated by their "owners", carrying weights that go beyond their physical capabilities  (such as construction debris, for example) as they are whipped.

Here are two articles published in local newspapers, which reproduce the situation. I have an  animal adoption site (www.bichinhosprecisamdelar.blogspot.com)  and work together with several local animal rigths groups fighting against this. The local government has no interest to end this medieval practice. I would ask your support in spreading the word this sad situation.

Thanks for listening,

Marcelo Morais de Oliveira


By Sheyla Azevedo and Marcelo Morais

The coming World Cup in 2014 for Natal has been one of the bulwarks to enshrine the idea of progress and, in turn, the rise of tourism and generate employment and income in the capital and its surroundings, in Greater Natal, which contains almost half the population of the entire state. At first, there is no denying these possibilities, after all it is a world famous event that has helped popularize and sensationalize football in the innermost parts of the world. And the city will have its share in this great celebration. But this progress is good for whom?

The answer could be simple and straightforward: it is good for everyone. But not quite, when one considers the field of action. The structural works such as building roads and stadium in the dunes, the training of professionals and all sorts of disclosure of the city are not enough to strengthen the pillar of progress. There is a lot of talk about sustainability and social justice, but inequalities are born in on horseback. Moreover, this figure of speech is quite appropriate because the aim was to talk about a medieval practice that is, unfortunately, still circulating in Natal:  the use of animals to pull carts.

There is up to now, no discipline or control by public health agencies or government bodies. All this makes the city a postcard for being backward and uncivilized, with the indifference and total disregard of these animals, most of them being victims of mistreatment and bad conditions of survival.

And if the reader thinks that such statements may be an exaggeration it is appropriate to hear what the veterinarian and sanitarian thinks, William Bonfim, a former director of the Center for “Zoonoses” (the agency responsible for animal health in the city), a Municipal Health professional for over 20 years militates in health causes and values the good relationship between humans and other living beings that inhabit and share the same space. In an interview with NGO Au-Who-Mia, available on YouTube, he says that this practice originated from social and cultural issues - when men migrated from the countryside to the big cities – that are incompatible with a city that thinks tourism. It is he who alerts us to the fact that only horses and donkeys are fit to haul heavy loads. However, mules and asses - smaller animals - are often used for the same purpose and can be seen being beaten while pulling heavy loads, including construction debris. In his clinical experience, even the former have serious health problems because they are shod and develop calluses that compromise their mobility. But their stories go far beyond when it comes to mistreatment. The veterinarian has seen scenes that feels as true "atrocities" genitals

amputated; females stabbed because they could not work, others with their tongues shattered by the harness and some animals with their tails burned as a "stimulus" so they could get up to continue their exhausting tasks. During his tenure, Bonfim explored a project that provided shelters for these poor mistreated beasts of burden. But the lack of budgetary provisions left these plans on paper.

The majority of people do not agree to such atrocities. Nor with the precarious conditions - socially speaking  of the people who treat their animals in this manner.. Generally these are people in need of financial resources, training and information about legislation or any kind of "progress" that that can lead to  sustainable growth and social justice.

For the 2014 World Cup is really a promising event and generator of progress, we must think of the benefits for the city and the entire population. And that includes in the agenda of the World Cup, the definition of serious and disciplinary rules for the use of animals as beasts of burden. Or maybe, at best, eliminate it completely, giving better conditions for survival for both humans and for animals that deserve our respect.

Article published in "Tribuna do Norte" in 10/27/10


Link to the article:



By Sheyla Azevedo

One day, when I was producing journalism content for TV in 2006, I was crossing the Igapó Bridge when all of a sudden came a horse, agonizing at the edge of that “iron dinosaur”. Visibly mistreated, thirsty, starving and full of wounds, the animal even had energy to stand up. It only stared firmly at us, as if asking the reason for so much cruelty and abandonment. There was not much to do and I left sad and desolated because I had no means to relieve such suffering, either understanding what takes a human being to do that with another creature.

More than four years has passed by and some sections of the city vibrate and exhort to the real possibility of Natal coming to be one of the 12 headquarters to 2014 FIFA World Cup. This decision is going to place Rio Grande do Norte’s State in the route of the definitive and promissing progress. An amount around R$ 6 billion is planned for infrastructure and urban mobility works, with the right to controversies from whom is the paternity and maternity of this “conquest” or if the Machadao Stadium should or should’t be demolished. Besides other promises like the comments on professional formation, with the right to “twist the tongue” on the vernacular “to be or not to be”, among other plans. 

Then, confronting that scene of no more than four years ago with the ones that are current in 2010 - of traction animals still being used in coaches that circulate in the city corridors from which a good part of them is visibly mistreated by their “owners” - carrying weight (like garbage from building sites, for instance) beyond the animals physical capacities, while whipped or worse things, I imagine what would think thousands of tourists that should arrive on the “province” during the World Cup 2014 and - who knows even among them, members from the Official Commission – if they saw the same scene? What kind of progress and urban mobility are those that doesn't foresee the discipline or - for the good of all - extinction of such an activity that’s not good for animals, nor for the coachmen, usually poor men with no professional qualification? I wonder if there’s some rich coachmen, with a good life, health insurance or paying school for their children. We are before a social and serious problem and it needs an urgent care. 

Public and sanitary authorities, along with the good will from some Non-Governmental Organizations, need urgently to think on this subject. To make worth effective laws, to create other and, mainly, to generate a budget endowment to solve those that are also the most important urban challenges for a city considered modern, intending to base a World Cup.

Article published in the "Novo Jornal" in 10/15/10


Sheyla Azevedo - azevedo.sheyla@gmail.com

Other articles published in local newspapers about this:


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