Most people find cockfighting, or any blood-sport involving animals simply abhorrent, but a recent article by the Associated Press highlights the fact that cockfighting is still alive in Puerto Rico and the territory is fighting to help it thrive.
While it’s illegal in every state, Puerto Rico is one of the only U.S. territories that still has legal cockfighting, along with Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands, and the fights continue to be barbaric government sanctioned cruelty funded by, you guessed it, taxpayers.
Once generating $100 million in government revenue annually, the ‘sport’ has fortunately seen a decline. The government continues to try to keep it going, while many who participate have taken their fights underground to avoid fees and charges issued by any of the 86 government regulated clubs.
But in October 2010, Puerto Rico legislators voted for a widely-lauded resolution to protect cockfights, stating they’re an integral part of the island’s folklore and patrimony. Subsequent legislation to crack down on illegal fights have received a lukewarm response.
“They can propose whatever measures they want, but no one will put a stop to this,” said Samuel Hernandez, a 29-year-old gamecock breeder, who has attended clandestine fights and says he understands their attraction.
Puerto Rican cock-fighting has long been considered a social equalizer, with everyone from farmhands to business executives sitting elbow-to-elbow at fights. It’s accessible to all, from those who can afford only one scraggly gamecock to reggaeton singers who buy gamecocks at $3,000 a pop.
The alleged sport is an ugly one. Birds are forced to fight each other to the death for gambling and entertainment and are left with a variety of injuries from broken bones to internal organ damage, especially if they’re fitted with razor-sharp gaffs, before they’re thrown away like trash.
A bill was recently introduced to crack down on illegal fights, but the effort was abandoned after it was rejected by the Senate. No one seems to think efforts will make any difference and violators are already rarely prosecuted….or they don’t want to bother anyone who continues to hide this disgusting abuse behind culture. Then again, what difference does it make to try and stop illegal fights when it’s perfectly acceptable to allow animals to suffer in legal ones.
Please sign the petition asking Puerto Rican legislators to take a stand against animal cruelty and ban cockfighting.
Photo credit: gregor1974