[For a while, El Chupacabras seemed to turn up in every issue of CNI News, and just about everywhere else too, for that matter. Then, suddenly, we heard nothing. Was our Chupa buddy hibernating? Digesting? (Like one of those big snakes that eats a whole pig about once a month, then just sits there for a few weeks?) Meantime, the Martian bacteria story broke big-time. Almost immediately, folks started to plead Mars overload. But just in the nick of time, Chupa is back! Thanks to Laurie Siperstein-Cook, here's a recent Chupa chronicle from Northern California. And in a somewhat similar vein, Jan Kauffman sends word of a truly bizarre and bloodthirsty creature rampaging in India, as reported in the Turkish press.]
This article appeared in The Marin Independent Journal on Tuesday, August 13, 1996, written by Edwin Garcia.
GOATSUCKERS 'INVADE' BAY AREA
Rosa Ramirez and her co-workers wouldn't dare venture through the darkened patches of Stanford University once they leave their janitorial jobs at 2 a.m. The goat-suckers, they reason, lie in wait.
The flying, kangaroo-like creature with bulging red eyes lives for the blood of goats and other farm animals. Humans, so far, have escaped injury, but that's small comfort for Ramirez, 36.
"A lot of people believe it's real," said Ramirez, an East Palo Alto mother who has watched with some skepticism, goatsucker news reports on Spanish-language television's tabloid show. "It worries us."
Recent tales of the rampaging goatsucker -- el chupacabras -- are captivating Latinos after reports of sightings buzzed through Latin America and parts of the United States, causing hysteria in some Spanish-speaking communities where parents are afraid to let their children play outside.
Is the chupacabras simply an urban legend? A genetic experiment gone bad? An extraterrestrial? A marketing ploy to sucker consumers into Websites, T-shirts and records?
All of the above, depending on whom you ask.
Although there's no solid evidence such as photographs to verify the accounts, everyone is eager to share opinions and theories. A Los Angeles radio station offered $1 million for the creature's carcass. Puerto Rican and Mexican government officials have mounted high-profile investigations into chupacabra-suspected slayings.
But don't count San Jose [California] Police Officer Ray Cedeno among chupacabras detectives. "It's nothing that I'd be too concerned about," said Cedeno, who shares crime prevention tips with Latinos and ranks the chupacabras with the bogeyman.
"Different social groups have their own myths and urban legends," agreed Jesus Martinez, a Santa Clara University political science professor teaching this summer in Mexico City, where goatsucker talk is nearing extinction after a months-long run.
Martinez isn't surprised that goatsucker reports are circulating in the San Francisco Bay Area, because "it reflects how closely intertwined the cultures are. It's not that people are stupid or anything like that," Martinez said, "but if you see something on television so many times, some people are going to start to believe in it."
Rumored sightings of chupacabras have frightened children and adults from San Francisco to Moscow, which leads believers and non-believers to agree on one thing: Goatsuckers have sure traveled a long way since launching into public view.
Their saga began last summer in Canovanas, a Puerto Rican town of 40,000 where scores of goats, chickens, sheep, rabbits, pigs and horses were slain by a creature that left distinctive neck perforations. More than 20 residents there claim to have seen the beast, and nearly everybody believes in it, according to the mayor, who has led search teams to hunt goatsuckers.
"We haven't stopped looking," Mayor Jose "Chemo" Soto said in a telephone interview. "Today it attacks animals; tomorrow it could attack humans."
Catching the creature has become a campaign issue for Soto, who faces re-election in November and likes to be called "Chemo Jones" because his chupacabra-hunting expeditions remind him of the adventurous movie character Indiana Jones.
Meanwhile, in related news, this item appeared in the "Notes From Here and There" column by Lewis Dolinsky, in the San Francisco Chronicle of Friday July 26, 1996:
The Turkish Daily News in Ankara reported... At least 16 children have been killed in northern India by what villagers variously described as a hyena or werewolf or deranged criminal, authorities said on [July 23]. The mysterious murders have triggered panic in a rural section of Uttar Pradesh state, where enraged residents have lynched suspects and attacked police.... In a front page story, the Pioneer newspaper said.... that terror-stricken villagers described the murderer as a man-like beast who drives a white van, looks like a pig and can fly.
A renowned hunter was to be employed to track the creature down.
[Flying we've heard before. But this is the first time we've heard about one that can drive. - ed.]
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