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Banning Cockfights

Rumors are circulating that the next Decree Law on Animal Welfare will not condemn cockfights. Animal rights activists are calling for a protest campaign

La Habana
A cockfight.
A cockfight. INfobae

In the month of November the Decree-law on animal welfare that activists have been clamoring for for decades is supposed to be announced. Over the past year or so the intensity of activists' activity has escalated considerably, materializing in the form of marches, protests, Zoonosis rescues, etc., all of which, according to the majority, resulted in the authorities promising legislation for the defense of animals.

The way in which this Decree has been prepared, however, leaves much to be desired. In the first place, the animal rights community (except for the regime's own AniPlant) was not even asked for its input; and, though an email address has been set up to send in opinions, the necessary debates that a law like this merits and requires, in a society so characterized by animal mistreatment, have never been had.

One of the controversial issues that we need to address is cockfighting. In recent days the rumor spread on the Net that, although dogfighting will be explicitly prohibited in the Decree, cockfighting will not.

"We have to call a spade a spade," Antonio Quintana Bonachea complained in the Facebook group "Cuba Against Animal Abuse": "It has been leaked that the Animal Welfare Law that will be enacted will not ban cockfighting." They will veto gambling (in theory, already the case today) but they will leave official spaces for the practice, evoking the tradition.

"Let's be clear," continues Bonachea, "it is well known that there are senior Party leaders, generals of the country, who participate in this activity. And they don't want to offend these leaders' sensibilities. This is the result of the legislative power being subordinated to the political power."

A user identified as Agustín Pupo, divulging the profile of a user named Julian Capote, stands up for the practice, citing tradition: "In Cuba there are official data in the historical archives of the existence of Cuban cockfighting going all the way back to April 8, 1737 ", adopting a patriotic tone when he claims that " from the Gallera (coop for fighting cocks) or Valla de San Bartolo in Baire, on February 24, the cockfight fans left at 3 pm to support Saturnino Lora and his appeal for Independence "… and he also cites the 16 official coops of the Flora & Fauna company - currently celebrated by the military, and a bastion of gamblers.

Almost a hundred animal rights activists spoke out to condemn this defense: "The world and its societies evolve towards something better ... which is why there is no longer an Inquisition ... and in many places of tradition bullfighting has also been prohibited", said a user identified as Cheryl Zaldivar, while Tatiana Zayas commented: "Violence is neither tradition nor culture. That is an absolute truth."

To eliminate this practice animal rights activists are collecting signatures on a "Ban Cockfighting" petition, preceded by arguments asserting the intrinsic cruelty of these games, which span from the training of the roosters to their death. "The galleros (cockfighting fans) try to justify this cruel and backward practice," says the text, "with the poor excuse that this variety of bird is naturally aggressive. What they omit is that these roosters' natural fighting instincts are aggravated through selective breeding, training, and their manipulation: fighting cocks are abused into being aggressive animals."

Defenders of animal rights also cite the regular mistreatment of these birds, ranging from modifications to their anatomy to the use of a gallo topón; that is a rooster used so that the fighting cock learns to fight. Its beak is tied so that its cannot defend himself, such that is serves as a kind of punching bag for the fighting cock, which attacks him without the gallo topón being able to defend itself."

"Doesn't all this constitute mistreatment and cruelty?" the authors of the petition ask, as they ask us all to sign it. "In order to furnish the petition with some validity, please include your NAME AND SURNAME", writes Valia Rodríguez, a member of CEDA and the creator of the page Cuba Against Animal Abuse, which is backing the petition effort.

Dozens of signatures were collected just hours after the campaign's launch, proving that animal abuse issues should be, among many others, the subject of a national debate.

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