Chilean Senator Fulvio Rossi filed a complaint this week with the Mistreatment of Animals Ministry saying that cockfighting in Arica, just 12 miles south of Chile’s border with Peru, “commits acts of mistreatment or cruelty” against animals reports the Santiago Times,.
Cockfighting is popular in many parts of Latin America and is an especially lucrative sporting event in Peru, where it is legal. But opinions on the gruesome deaths of roosters in this blood sport are changing because of the awareness brought by animal activists in many Latin American countries, and politicians are taking a stand against what is increasingly being considered not a “sport” but an act of violence and intentional animal cruelty.
Rossi’s call to address animal rights concerns in this northern area of Peru comes right before June 7, a regional holiday that commemorates the Battle of Arica, in which Arica became part of Chile, instead of Peru, the Santiago Times explains.
In his complaint, he cited a recent article about cockfighting in local newspaper La Estrella de Arica and said that roosters often die as a result of injuries received during matches.
Cockfighting has been a part of cultural activities since the colonial days when Spaniards and Peruvians brought the tradition to Chile.
Omar Espinoza Cruz, an experienced cockfighter who chose to raise his family in Arica, told La Estrella de Arica.“Here cockfighting has been developing practically since our Independence.”
“I am grateful to the people that come to this poultry event for the first time… because that is how we show them cockfighting as something that is traditional in our country, and particularly to (the city of) Arica.”
Cock fighting has long been controversial around the world, partly because of the bloody nature of the event. The contest ends when a rooster is killed or when an owner removes a tired bird from the contest, reports Katie Helland in the Santiago Times.
Referees watch the contest and separate the roosters when they become too tangled up to continue fighting. Many times, the roosters are fitted with sharp plastic or fish bone spurs that fit over or sometimes replace their natural spurs.
“When do we lose a rooster? This happens when it’s impossible to separate them and they continue fighting, or when they don’t have the the endurance to tolerate the pain and keep going,” cockfighter Aquiles Cano told La Estrella de Arica. “The fighting cock is an athlete and has to be prepared for 8 - 10 minutes of fighting without rest.”
Studies on the exact number of cockfighters in Chile are limited, but a veterinary student from the Universidad Austral de Chile conducted a survey of more than 2,000 gamefowl breeders across much of Chile in 2003 and discovered that most cockfighters were between ages 21 and 50. Most also have completed at least a high school education, while 21 percent had finished technical degrees and 17 percent had finished college.
The study showed that most cockfighting operations were small, consisting of between 40 and 50 animals. Cockfighters most frequently identified as agricultural workers or retired miners.
Although the reasons for continuing the tradition of cockfighting are varied they are not considered an excuse for animal cruelty by animal activists who continue to protest the practice.
“Cockfighting is an animal mistreatment crime,” said activist Anyelo Soto Allende. “It’s a practice that is really cruel, because many of the animals — including the winners — end dead because they are so injured that the truth is they have to be killed so that they don’t continue suffering.”
SONORA, MEXICO, HOPES TO BAN COCKFIGHTING
Sonora, Mexico, recently became the first Mexican state to ban bullfighting under the long-awaited Animal Protection Law addressing cruelty to animals amidst overwhelming public approval. Local lawmaker of the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico, Vernon Perez Rubio told Formato 21 radio, "...I really didn’t expect--I say this with all the honesty in the world--I didn’t expect the repercussion this would have, nationally and internationally."
His party explained in a media release that the law “not only bans bullfighting” but “also protects other domestic animals.”
Unfortunately, the law does not include the very popular spectacle of cockfighting. Rubio explained, “I’m against cockfighting. However, if we included a discussion on that subject, the law would never have passed."
“Now with the law in place, it’s very easy to launch a movement to end cockfighting if that’s what people want,” Perez Rubio said.