Culture

The US Congress Has Passed A New Law That Will Finally Put An End To Cockfighting In Puerto Rico

Before Spain colonized what we now call Puerto Rico, cockfighting was virtually nonexistent on the island. Spanish culture has long celebrated the entertainment value of watching animals fight to their death, from animals as small as chickens to as large as bulls. When Spain colonized Puerto Rico in the 17th century, imperialists brought their love of cockfighting to the island. Whatever your opinions on cockfighting, today, it’s become part of Puerto Rican culture. In fact, Puerto Ricans refused to take orders from their subsequent ruler, the United States, during a 34-year prohibition of cockfighting. 

Still, Congress is once again flexing its arm to eradicate the blood sport on the island. Animal activists had lobbied to enact a complete ban, including the last remaining U.S. territories, which includes Puerto Rico. 

Puerto Ricans are calling the ban on cockfighting an attack on their culture.

Credit: @duckm4st3r / Twitter

Vice called cockfighting “Puerto Rico’s most resilient industry” in 2016, but the $100 million industry has been in decline. Since 1985, the number of licensed arenas has nearly halved from 132 arenas to just 64 regulated arenas remaining. Still, around one million Puerto Ricans attend fights every year, which contributes to the livelihood of the veterinarians and cockfighters who profit off the blood sport.

Then governor Ricardo Rosselló didn’t travel to Washington in time to fight the bill.

Credit: hernansphotos / Instagram

Many Puerto Ricans feel like their status as a “U.S. territory” remains a euphemism for the reality: that Puerto Rico remains the world’s oldest colony. While a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico has no voice in Congress, the legislative body that passed the bill into effect, as part of a sweeping measure to limit animal cruelty across the United States. 

Even Puerto Ricans who reject the sport as a celebration of animal cruelty, still find it paternalistic for culture to be policed. It could have been a celebration of decolonizing the island from Spain’s rule, but Puerto Rican’s voices were silenced in the decision-making process. That said, a Humane Society poll of 1,000 registered Puerto Rican voters found that the majority of respondents supported the ban.

In a natural environment, roosters only fight when forced.

Credit: @BLaw / Twitter

According to Paul Siegel, a fowl genetics expert, cockfights are a rarity in the natural world because the weaker bird usually flees. “If there’s a way to escape, they’ll just get the heck out,” Siegel told PETA. Cockfighters deliberately create an arena that they cannot escape from. 

Animal activists think profit is no excuse for the cruelty inflicted on the birds.

Credit: @MagnoliaNews / Twitter

Then, they hot glue razor spurs to the roosters’ sensitive feet, and allow the roosters to fight to the death. Often, cockfighters will amputate the bony spurs roosters are born with, in order to glue the more fatal weapons on. Before entering the ring, cockfighters will pluck the feathers off their thighs so that they won’t be weakened by the pain of it happening in the ring. Before those crucial moments, they spend the majority of their lives socially isolated behind chicken wire.

“It’s like taking care of a baby,” cockfighter Wilfredo Burgo told Vice. “You take care of it from the egg. But you get used to it when they die.”

While cockfighters are feeling attacked by the U.S. government, they plan to fight back.

Credit: @Newarkguy1973 / Twitter

In the weeks after Congress passed the cockfighting ban, cockfighters were admittedly depressed, and stayed home from the fights. Six weeks later, two thousand cockfighters rallied outside the capitol building, thrusting their prized roosters into the air. San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, vowed that her city police forces will enforce the law, and that, “if federal agents want to, they’ll have to do it alone!”

“I’m a sixth-generation cockfighter,” José Torres, a trainer of fighting roosters, told NPR. “This is how I support my family. But I also inherited this. I was going to pass this onto my children.” Torres already informed his family that if the police show up at his door to confiscate the 250 roosters living in cages in his backyard, they will have to kill him first. He claims that there are thousands of cockfighters who plan for bloodshed the moment the ban is enforced.

Many are predicting that cockfighting will become an underground sport once again.

Credit: @j_lion_the_best / Twitter

Cockfighters are estimating that there are probably around 1 million roosters raised to fight on the island. Federal agents will likely euthanize the majority of the birds, sparing them an otherwise violent death.

READ: Puerto Rico Was Purposefully Denied Disaster Relief They Were Guaranteed By The Federal Government

Kat Von D Beauty No Longer Belongs To The Famous Tattoo Artist, ‘I Just Can’t Do Everything,’ She Said

Fierce

Kat Von D Beauty No Longer Belongs To The Famous Tattoo Artist, ‘I Just Can’t Do Everything,’ She Said

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After 12 years of bold colors, vegan products, and cruelty-free beauty innovation, Kat Von D announced that she’s stepping down from her eponymous beauty line. The queen of vegan makeup sold her stakes in the company and the cosmetics line will be rebranding to reflect her departure from the makeup line. 

Kat Von D announced that she has sold all of her remaining shares in Kat Von D Beauty to partner Kendo.

The makeup line’s existing parent company will now take ownership completely now that Von D has formally resigned from her role. In a company press release, the brand stated that while Von D pursues her artistic endeavors, she will no longer be involved with the brand “in any capacity.”

Kat Von D announced she’s parting ways with her eponymous beauty brand after 12 years to allow the brand to continue to grow. 

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This past year has been one of great change for me. As many of you know, I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, launched my vegan shoe line, and am now busy prepping to release my long awaited album in the Spring, followed by an international tour! As much as I wish I could balance all of this, on top of continuing my makeup line, it has become clear to me that I just can’t do everything at the maximum capacity. It's hard to admit this, since I’ve always said “You can do everything and anything.” But I don’t think admitting one's limits is a bad thing. With that said, I’ve decided to sell my shares of the brand, turning it over to Kendo, my partners for the past 11 years. This was not an easy decision, but after careful consideration, I decided I wanted the makeup line to continue to thrive and grow, and I believe Kendo is primed to do just that. The transition for you, my loyal customers, will be seamless. In order to avoid any confusion with such a big change, Kat Von D Beauty will take a moment to rebrand itself, so you will start noticing the change from KatVonD Beauty to KvD Vegan Beauty. I'd like to thank my beloved fans+followers who supported my vision to create a brand that stood for compassion, true artistry, and challenged modern ideals of beauty — most of which I never could relate to. I was able to create a makeup line that made outsiders like me feel like we have a place in this “beauty” world, and gave myself and others the tools to express ourselves in our own unique way, whether it was embraced by the majority or not. And I just couldn’t have done any of this without you! Lastly, thank you for understanding+respecting my choice, as it was a difficult one to make, but one I am proud of regardless, and am confident that the team will continue the KvD legacy! Here’s to many, many more years of KvD Vegan Beauty!

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The tattoo and makeup artist shared the news on Instagram, revealing that it wasn’t an easy decision. On top of being a new mom, launching a vegan shoe line, and preparing to release an album and tour in the spring, Von D admits she is no longer able to dedicate enough attention to the cosmetics brand. 

“This past year has been one of great change for me. As many of you know, I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, launched my vegan shoe line, and am now busy prepping to release my long-awaited album in the Spring, followed by an international tour,” she wrote in the post’s caption. “As much as I wish I could balance all of this, on top of continuing my makeup line, it has become clear to me that I just can’t do everything at the maximum capacity.”

Kat Von D dedicated more than 2 years to her vegan shoe line.

Von D worked to create her own shoe collection, making careful decisions about everything from a price point ranging from $90 to $350 to where, exactly, the pieces would be made.

“I became vegan in 2013 and, to be honest, I thought it was just a dietary thing,” she told InStyle “Then I was looking at my shoe collection and everything was either made out of leather or snakeskin, or the adhesive used was derived from horses.”

The silver lining for fans of Kat Von D’s cult-favorite products is that they’re not going anywhere.

Kat Von D Beauty’s iconic products like the cult-favorite Ink Liner and Lock-It Foundation aren’t going anywhere. Under Kendo’s complete ownership, the brand’s current product lineup will still be available, and there will be future launches. All products will still be 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free. 

She continued  “…With that said, I’ve decided to sell my shares of the brand, turning it over to Kendo, my partners for the past 11 years. This was not an easy decision, but after careful consideration, I decided I wanted the makeup line to continue to thrive and grow, and I believe Kendo is primed to do just that.” 

As of Jan 16. Kat Von D Beauty is slowly rebranding as KVD Beauty. The announcement of the new name was made on the brand’s Instagram

“Today, our founder Kat Von D has parted ways with us, as she leaves to pursue other artistic endeavors (vegan shoe line and music). We wish her the best of luck and thank her for 12 years of partnership,” reads the post’s caption. “We are NOW renamed and re-branded KVD Vegan Beauty – and fully owned and operated by Kendo. The same team that created our iconic and beloved products for the past 12 years (and built the empire with Kat) is ready to make history again. We still value self-expression, compassion, and empowerment.” 

Von D launched her vegan cosmetic brand in 2008 with four red lipsticks.

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🖤

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Now, there are over 250 products in the collection, which are sold globally in 36 countries at Katvondbeauty.com, Sephora.com, and Sephora stores. Products like the Ink Liner and Everlasting Liquid Lipstick are both fan and industry favorites. 

With Von D out, KVD Vegan Beauty will continue to offer its existing product range, and will now release new innovations under Kendo.

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🖤 📸: @marianovivanco

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“We are fully positioned to continue the brand’s growth and development in both product and marketing,” David Suliteanu, Kendo CEO says. “We have developed a very strong product pipeline for 2020 and beyond. The same Kendo team that made history with KVD Vegan Beauty is ready to do it again.” 

Von D added that during her tenure, she felt she was able to create a line that made outsiders feel like they had a “place in the beauty world.” She also expressed confidence in Kendo for carrying the KVD legacy.

READ: After Saying She Won’t Vaccinate Her Kid, Kat Von D Wants You To Know She’s Not An Anti-Vaxxer

A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

Things That Matter

A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

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Over the past two and a half weeks, Puerto Rico has experienced more than 1000 earthquakes. This number may seem unbelievable, but it’s true: after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the island on January 7—the largest earthquake to hit Puerto Rico in more than a century—aftershocks have continued to jolt the island, leaving hundreds of people homeless, lacking supplies and electricity. Among the aftershocks was January 11’s 5.9 magnitude quake, which caused even further devastation, particularly to the southern part of the island. So far, the earthquakes have cost an estimated $200 million in damages, including the destruction of more than 800 homes.

But the damage hasn’t only been structural—several people are experiencing extreme anxiety as tremors continue to strike the island.

Credit: Facebook / ASSMCA Online

Officials from ASSMCA, Puerto Rico’s  Office of Mental Health Services and Addiction Prevention, have been making their rounds at outdoor shelters where displaced individuals and families have taken refuge, offering mental health support to those most affected by the quakes.

“These aftershocks are triggers for people,” Abdiel Dumeng, an ASSMCA employee, said in Spanish in an interview.”But I have to admit that we’ve seen a decrease in these kinds of crises, because we’ve been working together for a while, teaching people how to stay calm.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), aftershocks will continue to decrease in frequency over the next month and will be exponentially “lower in magnitude”. But in the meantime, Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management estimates that more than 8,000 people are staying in these outdoor shelters—fewer than half are in government-run shelters, while the rest are taking refuge in either informal spaces or shelters run by non-government organizations.

What exactly constitutes an “informal” shelter? Well, some folks have simply taken their beds outside, staying close to home while avoiding the potential dangers of being indoors. Others are crashing with relatives in towns that have experienced less damage than other areas.

Credit: StarTribune

In response to the 5.9 earthquake on January 11, Governor Wanda Vázquez said that she had declared a major state emergency following an initial assessment of the damages incurred. Vázquez also announced the immediate disbursement of $2 million for the towns of Guánica, Utuado, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Yauco, which experienced the most damage due to their proximity to the earthquakes’ epicenter. This $2 million was defined as a way to meet the towns’ most urgent needs—but now, ten days later, la gente está harta, because these needs still haven’t been met.

Just a few days ago, Vázquez fired two high-ranking officials in her administration: Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar. She also fired former Emergency Management Director Carlos Acevedo. The Governor’s reason for the dismissals was an alleged lack of information regarding aid collection and distribution centers.

This lack of information had to do with the discovery of a warehouse in Ponce that was filled with seemingly forgotten disaster supplies. But these supplies were not sent in response to the current crisis—they date back to when Hurricane Maria (a Category 4 storm) hit the island in September 2017.

Credit: Carlos Giusti / Associated Press

And people are understandably angry. On January 20, scores of demonstrators gathered in front of the Governor’s mansion in San Juan to demand her resignation. While the Governor seems to have tried addressing the issue with the dismissals mentioned above, several people are accusing her of not taking accountability for this appalling error, urging her to step down. And with demonstrators vowing to stay in the streets until Vázquez steps down, the current situation looks a lot like last summer’s demonstrations, which ultimately caused Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign.

When asked by NBC News what the “human impact” of this mistake is, Rafael Gonzalez—President of PROFESA, a Puerto Rican Professional Association that delivered aid during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria—said, “We saw it on [sic] Maria. We saw what happens when you don’t deliver the supplies that people need. People die.”

Indeed, more than 3,000 people died as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria (not to mention highly insufficient disaster response on the part of the United States government). At this point, the recent series of earthquakes has resulted in one death and nine injuries. In an attempt to keep that number from rising, Jennifer Gonzales, Puerto Rico’s Commissioner to Congress, joined forces with five other members of Congress to send a letter to Donald Trump, asking him to sign a major disaster declaration that would bring federal funding to the recovery effort.

On January 16, Donald Trump responded by designating six hard-hit towns in the southern part of the island as major disaster areas. Hopefully this will result in an appropriate disaster response—one that will not negligently result in more forgotten aid.