Brazil has no tradition of bull-fighting, but in the south of Brazil, in the state of Santa Catarina, bovines are the victims of a cruelty that was brought to the country with Portuguese immigrants from the Azores Islands, who settled on the coast of the state.
Called ‘farra do boi’, it usually takes place after Carnival, during the Lent period. Farra means something like carousal, binge. An excessive kind of partying. In this case, the excess is in the shape of the cruelty inflicted on a hapless animal.
Unlike Spain and other European countries, where torturing bulls is legal, in Brazil it is illegal (since 1998) and there are campaigns against it every year.
The problem is that the criminals who like to torture animals during farra do boi defy the law, sometimes with the help of opportunistic local politicians who try to take electoral advantage from it.
What happens during Farra do Boi? The animal is let loose in a secret location to dodge the authorities. Then a mob chases them, often with spiky objects until the animal succumbs to exhaustion.
Children are allowed to take part in it. And it is easy to imagine what a scared, big animal can do in order to escape their tormentors.
The mob is often hostile to the police as well and throws stones at them when confronted.
When the animal is captured alive, often they need to be euthanized.
“Besides being an animal cruelty crime, Farra is also linked to other serious offenses such as criminal association, damage to public assets, disobedience of lawful orders and corruption of minors,” says Luciana Cardoso Polli, a public prosecutor from Santa Catarina State.
She adds her office has worked to prevent farra from taking place and also applies punishment to those who are caught taking part of this criminal activity.
She highlights that citizen cooperation is key since it is through citizen reports that authorities can locate and terminate such dreadful events.
“We need the effort and commitment of all citizens of Santa Catarina to end, perhaps already in 2020, once and for all this terrible, predatory action,” she says.