As mentioned, both Santeria and Palo Mayombe believe that animal sacrifice is a fundamental aspect of the belief system and ritually required as offerings to the gods. The sacrificing of an animal is perceived as an assimilation of power harnessed through the degree of torture, pain, and blood that the victim ‘offers’. In Santeria these rituals are generally documented as being used for milder good and bad spells such as to cast a love spell, acquire money, pass tests or exams and protect against evil or guilty prosecution, for example. However, evil spells of jealousy and revenge are still practiced.
Currently, religious sacrifice is legal to practice. However, there have been many cases where supreme court judges have publicly stated their opinions that its practices are an abuse of the ‘necessary’ rituals and that the animals used in the ceremonies are clearly being classified as animal cruelty and abuse, as in the case in 1993 against The Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye.
Following ARM’s constant flow of cases relating to animal sacrifice, in 2011, Founder Richard ‘Kudo’ Couto investigated and challenged the same Santeria church and its high Priest Ernesto Pichardo for its practices and extreme cruelty and abuse of animals. This was the first time an animal welfare organization had publicly approached a Santeria Churches religion and rights to animal sacrifice and degrees of practice. The church’s High priest and it’s followers retaliated to ARM’s pressure by responding publicly on airwaves, radio and TV shows in the efforts to denounce ARM’s credibility. This reaction simply proved the vulnerability of the religion. Since the heat between ARM and The Santeria church of Lukumi, ceremonies have been conducted by Santos to curse the ARM organization and its founder.
Although animal sacrifice is somewhat protected in Santeria religion, the disposing of animals carcasses in public places is a violation of health codes and arrests are still made and are exposed through the media.