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Blood on the Tracks

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I made the mistake of eating breakfast while opening an e-mail from a Riptide reader recently. It stated: "Hey good folks at The Miami New Times...here's something worth checking out."

That nice greeting ensured that I would read on:

"There's an under current of activity here in Miami-Dade with the Santeria cult.

Sacrificial chickens are all over the city, one just needs to look for them and there they are ... in Opa-locka, Allapattah , Liberty City and Hialeah.

Why in the year 2007 are these morons killing healthy fowl and bagging them to be left at Rail Road crossings....?"

I want to know and if the larger public is informed about this there will be a raising of awareness.....check out the pics here.......Glenn61"

Glenn61 kindly enclosed several grisly photos of squashed fowl. I'm sure his e-mail was forwarded to me because I've written about both Santeria and Vodou for this paper and for another publication.

I have also seen those bird-filled bags on the railroad tracks near my home in Little Haiti. But to answer Glenn's question: the reason why some (though certainly not all) practitioners of Santeria and Voudou leave chickens on train tracks is because they believe the chicken represents evil spirits -- and by killing the chicken, the train takes those bad spirits away.

Animal sacrifices for religious purposes were deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1993. Still, the practice is unsettling to many people.

For more information on Santeria, check out the Church of the Lukumi's website. It's run by Ernesto Pichardo, a Miami-based Santeria priest and scholar; he was also the guy who took the animal sacrifice case all the way to the Supreme Court.

-Tamara Lush

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Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.