The US territory of Puerto Rico is fighting against the mainland’s efforts to ban cockfighting on the island.
Washington is looking to outlaw what it considers animal cruelty but Puerto Ricans insist that apart from being a 400-year-old tradition, cockfighting employs thousands on the island.
The US Congress’ legislation would have come into force on Friday, December 20, bringing Puerto Rico up to speed with the states of the union.
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But the governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez, signed a law on Wednesday that the islanders hope would allow them to continue the tradition of cockfighting.
But this move is expected to be tested at the Supreme Court as federal authorities remain resolved to carry out the ban.
The ban is supported by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Puerto Rico has three million people, but the territory has no representative in either house of the US Congress. Moves like the cockfight ban are seen as further crystallization of US imperialism over Puerto Ricans.
It is estimated that cockfighting pumps in $18 million a year into the Puerto Rican economy and employs some 27,000 people, according to the bill approved by Puerto Rico’s House and Senate.
Puerto Rico has 71 cockfighting establishments in 45 municipalities licensed by the island’s Department of Sports and Recreation.