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

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Star Offers Reward To Find Who Mutilated A Manatee With The Name ‘Trump’

Things That Matter

Guardians Of The Galaxy Star Offers Reward To Find Who Mutilated A Manatee With The Name ‘Trump’

Michael Wood/Stocktrek Images

Just when we thought Trump supporters couldn’t disgust us more, one disfigured a manatee by etching “Trump” into its back.

Sadly, last week, a manatee was found in Florida’s Homosassa River with the name “Trump” scratched into its back. The discovery has prompted federal officials to open an investigation into the disfigurement of the threatened species.

A mutilated manatee was found over the weekend with the name Trump scratched into its back.

According to a report published by the Citrus County Chronicle, it is unclear when and how the manatee was mutilated. It is also unknown whether the current investigation has made any leads in regards to the perpetrators. Still, footage of the abused animal has sparked outrage online.

Douglas Nowacek, a professor of Conservation Technology at Duke University told Vice that the incident is “one of the most horrifying things I have ever seen done to a wild animal.” In a separate email, Ruth Carmichael, a Senior Marine Scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and a Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama described the act a “horrific” to VICE saying “I have no words to express how deeply troubling, thoughtless, and potentially cruel this is.” 

Guardians of the Galaxy actor Dave Bautista has offered a $20,000 reward to anyone who finds the person who etched “Trump” into the Florida manatee’s back.

Bautista offered the reward on Twitter, writing “if there’s not already a reward for the arrest and conviction of the low life scummy MAGATs that did this I’ll throw in $20,000. And I promise there will be bonuses to that reward!”

Marine biologists say that it is unclear just how much harm the mammal endured.

“It’s a little hard to see the extent of damage from the video,” Carmichael explained. “It is harassment regardless. If the scrape penetrates the skin, then it likely caused some pain and stress. The animals have nerves and sensory hairs in the skin. Additionally, open wounds could become infected.” 

According to Graham Worthy, Department Chair and Pegasus Professor at the University of Central Florida who spoke to VICE the letters could mostly be shallow, and may mostly be algae scraped off the animal’s back making“ injury would be virtually non-existent.”

Still, physically hurt or not, the manatee in question was clearly harassed by a person. As such the perpetrator could face severe penalties if found. 

“Violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act may result in fines of up to $100,000 and one year’s imprisonment for individuals and up to $200,000 for organizations,” Worthy told Vice. “It is illegal to approach and make contact with these animals let alone deface or injure them. It is illegal to feed or harass wild marine mammals including dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, sea lions, and manatees. You are not allowed to feed, swim with, or harass these marine animals… They should be observed from a distance of at least 50 yards.”

The mutilated manatee is a West Indian manatee and is a herbivorous mammal found in coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Up until 2017, the species was considered endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Today, conservation status is listed as “threatened.”  

As many users of social media have noted, perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the images that humans already cause so much pain and suffering to innocent animals. When does it stop?

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Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

Entertainment

Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

As you probably know by now, a new season of the never-ending reality series “The Bachelor” has just started.

And this season is destined to be especially exciting–not just because of the promise of non-stop drama, but because the franchise has finally hired its first Black male lead, Matt James, after 18 years on the air.

And with the first Black “Bachelor” comes the most diverse group of contestants competing for the lead’s heart that they’ve ever had.

And one of the contestants that is capturing the hearts of both fans and Matt James alike is 24-year-old Puerto Rican-born pageant queen Mariela “Mari” Pepin.

On this season’s premiere episode of “The Bachelor”, Mari was immediately clocked by viewers as one of the front runners by the way that Matt reacted to meeting her. The former Wake Forest wide receiver was struck speechless by her beauty and couldn’t keep his eyes off her when she parted ways with him. It was obvious that Mari had made quite the first impression on him.

And because we love to see #representation on screen (and especially on reality TV), we decided to do our due diligence and find out as much as we could about this gorgeous and accomplished Latina. Here’s everything you need to know about Mari Pepin.

She’s Boricua–and proud of it!

Something that immediately endeared Mari to fans was the fact that she is so vocally proud of being Puerto Rican. In her first sit-down conversation with Matt, she opened up about how hard its been for her family to live through the relentless natural disasters that the island is going through.

She’s a military brat.

According to Mari’s personal blog, she spent the first few years of her life in PR before relocating to Germany because of her father’s military career. According to Mari, her unique childhood contributed to her love of traveling as an adult.

She was 2019’s Miss Maryland USA.

According to Mari’s official “Bachelor” bio, she began competing in pageants when she moved to Maryland as a teenager. She won Miss Teen Maryland and then went on to win the title of Miss Maryland. After that, she placed in the Top 10 of the Miss USA competition.

She’s wicked smart.

According to Mari’s LinkedIn page, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Towson University and she’s currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Marketing Intelligence from the same institution. It’s safe to say she values education.

She’s multilingual.

Not only does Mari speak both Spanish and English flawlessly, but she’s also fluent in French and American Sign Language.

Based on all this info alone, we can’t wait to see Mari Pepin crush this season of “The Bachelor”. Hopefully, this Boricua beauty will be popping up a lot on our screens for years to come!

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