Things That Matter

Puerto Rico’s Governor Fights Back Against Federal Government By Legalizing Cockfighting

Who doesn’t love traveling the world and experiencing new cultures and traditions? Some of them are bizarre, but others are quite fascinating. The main thing to remember when going outside of your comfort zone is to have an open mind and never judge others. Just because you don’t conduct yourself the way others in various parts of the world, doesn’t mean it is wrong. It’s just not what you are accustomed to. However, having said that, there are definitely new regulations that are being placed, and some people aren’t too happy about it. 

Last year, the U.S. Congress signed a new order that would make cockfighting illegal in U.S. territories — but Puerto Rico said they would not comply.

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Among other new regulations, the U.S. Farm Bill calls for protecting animals, and that extends to banning cockfighting. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, under the new Farm Bill, there’s a clause called the Parity in Animal Cruelty Enforcement (PACE) Act, which amends the Animal Welfare Act. That extension puts a federal ban on dogfighting and cockfighting to U.S. territories. 

“The PACE Act will clarify federal prohibitions on animal fighting activity and ensure they are extended to all U.S. jurisdictions, including U.S. territories,” Sen. Susan Collins said last year. The problem here, at least for Puerto Rico, is that cockfighting is a big money-making industry. 

Former Governor Ricardo Rosselló had lobbied against it, but his efforts failed. Now the newly installed governor signed a law to keep cockfighting in Puerto Rico open for business.

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Gov. Wanda Vazquez signed the law this week that will allow people to continue to organize this brutal sport in which two roosters fight each other in a ring. However, just because Vazquez says it’s okay, doesn’t mean people won’t get arrested for it. 

“Let’s talk this through,” Vazquez said, according to CNN. “This is an industry that represents income for thousands of families, and we have to take them into consideration.” Her colleague, Rep. Gabriel Rodriguez Aguilo, who also co-wrote the bill, added to her sentiment by saying, “We will have to wait and see how the federal government reacts,” he said. “Cockfighting is a cultural tradition.”

This is a new federal mandate, however, if Puerto Ricans go along with what the governor says, that doesn’t mean they’ll be protected. If federal agents find them conducting a cockfight, they will be arrested. 

While cockfighting dates back to centuries ago, it is a very inhumane sport that leaves roosters fighting for their life.

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According to the Humane Society, “Cockfighting often goes hand in hand with gambling, drug dealing, illegal gun sales, and murder.” Well, we can understand that. Some people find it kind of odd that lawmakers care so much about the lives of roosters when they treat chickens like anything but animals. Farmers have chickens locked up, among countless other chickens, and they are there for one purpose: to die and be eaten. So what’s the difference between how the U.S. treats chickens and how Puerto Ricans use roosters as a sport? 

The cockfighting industry in Puerto Rico generates $18 million a year for the island and has 27,000 employees. Banning the sport would put all those people out of a job, and the island’s revenue would suffer. 

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The New York Times reports that cockfighting has been a sport in Puerto Rico for the past 400 years and was introduced to the island by the Spanish colonizers. “It was legalized again in 1933 and has been regulated ever since, with 71 licensed cockpits across the island of 3.2 million people,” the Times reports. 

Wayne Pacelle, the founder of Animal Wellness Action, told CNN that Puerto Rico’s cockfighting practice has nothing to do with tradition and has everything to do with ego. 

“It’s pure showmanship,” Pacelle said to the network. “The politicians are encouraging illegal behavior, and they’re putting those people at risk with the false hope that their legislative maneuver has any legal effect. It does not have any legal effect.”

Yet still, it will be a contested issue whether the people of Puerto Rico are ready for it or not.

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“I already told my wife, and I told my mother,” José Torres told NPR in October, “that anyone who comes and tries to take one of my roosters will have to kill me first. And I’m not the only one. There are thousands of us.”

Now that will definitely be a real fight. 

READ: A New Report Finds That Puerto Rico Is The Most Vulnerable Country When It Comes To Climate Change

Puerto Rico Has Declared A State Of Emergency And Left Residents Without Access To Running Water

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Puerto Rico Has Declared A State Of Emergency And Left Residents Without Access To Running Water

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Another crisis is unfolding on the island of Puerto Rico, as a severe drought grips the territory and forces the government to take drastic measures. After a series of major earthquakes and hurricanes, Puerto Rico is now suffering through one of its worst droughts in history.

Water is scarce. And the government is implementing rationing measures that will leave hundreds of thousands of residents without regular access to running water.

Gov. Wanda Vazquez has announced a state of emergency as the government begins rationing water.

Puerto Rico is once again in the headlines for an ongoing crisis that is affecting hundreds of thousands of island residents. On Monday, Puerto Rico’s governor declared a state of emergency as a worsening drought creeps across the territory.

Starting July 2, nearly 140,000 customers, including some in the capital of San Juan, will be without water for 24 hours every other day as part of strict rationing measures. Puerto Rico’s utilities company urged people to not excessively stockpile water because it would worsen the situation, and officials asked that everyone use masks and maintain social distancing if they seek water from one of 23 water trucks set up across the island.

“We’re asking people to please use moderation,” said Doriel Pagán, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority, adding that she could not say how long the rationing measures will last.

The order signed also prohibits certain activities in most municipalities including watering gardens during daylight hours, filling pools and using a hose or non-recycled water to wash cars. Those caught face fines ranging from $250 for residents to $2,500 for industries for a first violation.

Puerto Rico is experiencing a drought ranging from moderate to severe in some parts of the territory.

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According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of last week more than 26% of the island is experiencing a severe drought and another 60% is under a moderate drought. Water rationing measures affecting more than 16,000 clients were imposed this month in some communities in the island’s northeast region.

The island’s access to water is complicated by the fact that many residents rely on a system of reservoirs in Puerto Rico for water. However, due to budget constraints, several have not been dredged for years, leaving sediment to collect and allowing the excess loss of water. 

Aside from drought, the island is still recovering from a pair of deadly earthquakes and Hurricane Maria.

Credit: Eric Rojas / Getty Images

Over the last few years, Puerto Rico has suffered a one-two punch that has left much of the island’s infrastructure in shambles. In fact, Vasquez cited the lasting impacts of the December and January earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic as exacerbating the water crisis.

The current water crisis has threatened the safety and wellbeing of Puerto Ricans. The earthquakes also disproportionately impacted the southern region where the drought is most severe. Vázquez also extended the coronavirus curfew for the whole island, which began in March, for three more weeks, making it the longest continuous curfew in the United States so far.

People Are Using Social Media to Highlight Racism On The Islands

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People Are Using Social Media to Highlight Racism On The Islands

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The world is paying attention to racism in the world right now. The Black Lives Matter movement has gone international and people are starting to call out racism everywhere they see it. This means shining a light on racism on social media to really highlight the issue.

Afro-Caribbean people are using #AquíNoExisteElRacismoPero and #PeroNoSomosRacists to highlight racism.

Social media users are sharing their experiences with racism on the Caribbean islands and the hashtags speak volumes. The hashtags translate to #ButWeAreNotRacists and #ThereIsNoRacismHereBut are being used to highlight racism in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

There is an understood in the Latino community that racism runs deep but it is often ignored. Culturally, it has plagued the Latino community for generations with microaggressions about hair and “bettering the race.” It is something that we need to address and these hashtags are calling it out.

Some Dominicans are highlighting the microaggressions that have existed for as long as time.

Microaggressions are some of the most common and annoying moments of racism around. They are little but when there are enough they really add up fast. They are all around and are said so often that people often ignore them when they are said. “Pelo malo” one of the most common examples of racist microaggressions in the Latino community. It is always Afro-Latinos who have “pelo malo.”

The hair microaggressions are some of the earliest.

Twitter users are coming forward with stories of having their hair relaxed and chemically treated to be “better.” The focus on Euro-centric beauty within the Afro-Latino community is toxic and instilling it in children so young is a traumatic and hurtful experience.

Some people have been able to use the experience to empower themselves.

People who can take a moment like this ad grow from it are the kind of people you want to know. You go with your self-acceptance and love. There is nothing more beautiful than being yourself and learning to love all of you is a journey so many have to make.

There are so many microaggressions that have become far to familiar in our community and we have to fight against them.

Cosas que escuché en mi entorno mientras crecía :"En nuestra familia no hay negros""Mijito tienes que mejorar la raza…

Posted by Stefano Navarro on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Things I heard in my surroundings growing up:
“There are no black in our family.”
“Mijito you have to improve the race.”
“Marry a white girl.”
“You’re not black, you’re tricky, don’t say that again.”
“I’m not black, I’m brunette.”
“You mean the black I was selling….”
“You work like black.”
“You sweat like black.”
“Your kids came out happily white.”
“You smell like black.”
#PeroNoSomosRacistas

READ: 8 Racist Habits Latinos Seriously Need To Drop