Puerto Rico Will Keep Cockfighting Alive By Ignoring Federal Ban

Cockfighting generates an estimated $18 million a year on the island

Puerto Rico Will Keep Cockfighting Alive By Ignoring Federal Ban
People taunting their gamecocks to get them riled. (RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty)
AFP via Getty Images

Responding to years of lobbying from animal rights advocates, Congress voted last December to cockfighting in all U.S. territories beginning this month.

But, according to The Associated Press, Puerto Rico will defy the U.S. government and Congress (where Puerto Rico’s 3.2 million people do not have a voting member) by approving a law to keep the 400-year-old tradition alive.

The measure, which is expected to be signed into law on Wednesday, will keep it legal for Puerto Rico to host cockfights as long as people don’t export or import cocks or any goods or services related to cockfighting.

“We are certainly challenging a federal law. We know what that implies,” Rep. Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló, who co-authored the bill, told the AP.

According to the bill that was approved by Puerto Rico’s House and Senate, cockfighting generates an estimated $18 million a year and employs some 27,000 people on the island.

“Cockfighting is a multi-million-dollar industry,” Gerardo Mora, the Puerto Rican government official who regulates the territory’s licensed cockfighting arenas, told NPR in October. “Breeders, trainers, veterinarians, grain distributors, medication, spurs, cages. So it’s lamentable that people who don’t understand Puerto Rico’s idiosyncrasies would, in the name of benevolence, make unjust decisions to eliminate our national sport.”

Louisiana, the last state to allow cockfighting, banned the practice in 2008.

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