By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Congress in Brazil signed into effect on Tuesday, Constitutional Amendment 96, which authorizes the practice of vaquejada and rodeos in the country, determining that sporting practices and cultural manifestations with animals are not considered cruel.
“We see animals as part of this celebration, and we give them the special treatment they deserve,” said Senate President and author of the amendment, Eunicio Oliveira.
The vaquejada, a very traditional event in the Northeastern region of the country, consists of two Brazilian cowboys (vaqueiros) trying to place a steer in a predetermined area, a few meters away. The steer is pulled by the tail by the cowboys as it struggles to get away. The fate of the animals used in the vaquejadas is usually the slaughterhouse.
The latest ruling by Congress annuls the determination by Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court (STF), which in October ruled unconstitutional a law of the state of Ceará that recognized the vaquejada as a sport and cultural heritage and banned the event.
After the STF decision vaquejada participants and organizers came out in support of the cultural event, protesting in Brasilia. According to the Brazilian Association of Vaquejada, approximately 4,000 events are promoted every year and move around R$600 million, generating thousands of jobs throughout the country.
“I say without exaggeration, we are guaranteeing here about 700,000 jobs only in the Northeast, not counting the practices related to the rodeo in other regions of the country,” noted Senate President Eunicio Oliveira after Tuesday’s approval.