New Law Tears At Island’s Culture Of Cockfighting

The timing of the recently signed federal law that toughens the penalties against cockfighting should conceivably be of greater interest to the majority of Americans than the question of its morality. While the culture of cockfighting is generally accepted in Latin American countries, the Anglo public overwhelmingly sees the sport as inhumane. But why, after 300 years of this practice in Puerto Rico, was this moment chosen to make it illegal to transport birds and cockfighting paraphernalia? Was there another motive behind the measure? One theory might lie in the analogous “sport” of dog fighting, which has been stealing headlines in recent weeks.

Michael Vick, a high-profile professional football player, recently had one of his homes seized by federal officials in relation to an alleged dog fighting operation. Since this was reported, numerous sources have come forth claiming to have first-hand knowledge of other prominent athletes, celebrities, and even law enforcement officers who were involved in a dog fighting circle.

While the cockfighting bill did pass following the seizure of Vick’s property, federal officials surely had prior intelligence that dog fighting was taking place. So the question must be asked, is the new cockfighting law and the seizure of the house coincidental, or is the former a consequence of the latter? The answer is that the two are likely unrelated events, however, the timing warrants the question to be asked.

One can question the dynamics of the bill without challenging the ethical boundary that animal fighting may or may not cross. Cockfighting has been engrained in Puerto Rican culture for centuries. Therefore, with no obvious precursor, the integrity of this new legislation can be properly scrutinized. The most logical explanation is that we had a legislative agenda here that had less to do with cockfighting than mainland cultural arrogance.