Puerto Rico cries foul over U.S. Congress's cockfighting ban

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 19, 2019 - Duration: 02:11s

Puerto Rico cries foul over U.S. Congress's cockfighting ban

An attempt by the U.S. Congress to ban cockfighting in Puerto Rico has set off a debate about animal cruelty, put thousands of jobs at risk and sparked a possible power struggle between the U.S. territory's government and Washington.

Colette Luke has more.


Puerto Rico cries foul over U.S. Congress's cockfighting ban

(broll of roosters fighting) It's a tradition that's been around for 500 years in Puerto Rico… But on Friday, cockfighting could come to an end.

A law was passed by the U.S. Congress last year, meant to bring the island in step with a federal ban on cockfighting.

But Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez on Wednesday signed legislation designed to allow the tradition to continue, with a five-year moratorium on the ban.

That could set up a conflict with U.S. federal authorities.

Many Puerto Ricans are not happy about a ban, including fighting cock owner Carlos Junior Aponte Silva (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIGHTING COCK OWNER CARLOS JUNIOR APONTE SILVA, SAYING: "This is an abuse the U.S. government is committing against our culture.

We've been cockfighting for over 500 years and they (the US) is trying to go against our culture which is the rooster sport.

Donald Trump said that people's cultures should be respected.

Let's respect this one!" Fans of the sport say 27,000 jobs could be lost among breeders, food suppliers and others if the ban goes ahead.

Part-time breeder Elvin Lugo Rodriguez said he's prepared to go underground with the sport if need be… (SOUNDBITE) PART-TIME BREEDER ELVIN LUGO RODRÍGUEZ SAYING:"My manager is not going to go clandestine, but if there's nothing before (December) 21st, well then we'll continue fighting cocks.

I'll take my roosters and continue illegally.

On the 21st we will become criminals." But animal rights groups - like PETA - say cockfighting is cruel..

The birds have spikes attached to their legs to cause more damage to opponents, as men gather around a pit to watch the animals peck and scratch each other in 12-minute fights..

The death of the birds during the fight or shortly afterward is common… As Puerto Rico fights to keep the tradition alive, it will be an uphill battle against Congress, where the island's three million people have no elected voting representative..

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