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

Bad Bunny Honored A Murdered Trans Woman During Jimmy Fallon In Simple And Powerful Way

Entertainment

Bad Bunny Honored A Murdered Trans Woman During Jimmy Fallon In Simple And Powerful Way

A trans woman was shot and killed in Puerto Rico after she used the women’s bathroom at a McDonald’s. The attackers filmed her death as they laughed in her final moments. Adding insult to injury, many Puerto Rican news outlets covered her death as a man in a skirt. Bad Bunny, who has long championed for the LGBTQ+ community, used his time on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” to address the misgendering of Alexa Negrón Luciano after her humiliating and brutal death.

Bad Bunny took time during his performance on Jimmy Fallon to bring attention to a trans woman who was killed in Puerto Rico.

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Alexa Negrón Luciano was a homeless trans woman known in Puerto Rico. She was often ridiculed by people on the streets and on social media where photos were posted making fun of her as an oddball. That mockery and callousness of those around her reached a deadly conclusion last week.

According to reports, a woman customer at a McDonald’s in Tao Baja, Puerto Rico claimed Negrón Luciano tried peeping on her as she used the bathroom. She was then questioned by police as people took photos and posted them on social media. Twelve hours later, a video circulated on social media of Negrón Luciano’s assassination as the assailants are heard laughing on the video.

Media reports from Puerto Rico initially broke the story calling Negrón Luciano “a man in a skirt.”

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Puerto Rico has long been criticized for the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Last year, Puerto Ricans and celebrities took to the streets to protest against a “religious freedom” bill that would allow the discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community. The bill, initially supported by then-Governor Ricardo Rosselló, ultimately didn’t pass after strong pushback in Puerto Rico and from around the world.

Not long after the bill was blocked, Governor Rosselló was caught up in a group chat scandal where he and those who worked with him spoke about the LGBTQ+ community and women in disparaging terms. The group chat scandal fueled more protests and eventually led to Gov. Rosselló resigning from his position after growing outcry.

Despite presenting an LGBTQ+-friendly face to the world, Puerto Rico’s anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment is still a very real fear for those on the island.

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The New York Times has reported that women’s and LGBTQ+ rights have advanced significantly in recent decades. However, an underlying fear of physical and legislative violence has scarred the communities. While some measures to protect LGBTQ+ people have progressed, like an employment non-discrimination law, there is a strong coalition of conservative and Christian evangelicals fighting the progress.

“This has served as a reminder that some of these advances are at risk, that there is still discrimination, that there is still homophobia,” Pedro Julio Serrano, an activist in San Juan, told The New York Times after the shooting death of gay Latin trap singer Kevin Fret. “We can’t forget that.”

This is why Bad Bunny openly correcting the media’s and people’s perception of Negrón Lucian is so important.

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Last year, at least 26 transgender and gender non-conforming people were murdered in the U.S. for being who they are. Mainly, deadly violence is focused on trans women of color with Black trans women dying at higher rates. The real statistics of these murders are hard to track because often the victims are misgendered by the media or family who never accepted them for who they are. So far, in 2020, there are believed to be at least two trans women murdered in the U.S.

Some responses to the performance show the work still needed to break the ignorance and hate around a vulnerable community.

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Trans people, like all people, deserve the same respect when it comes to pronouns and the right to live without fear and violence. Bad Bunny’s shirt addressing Negrón Luciano by name and not “a man in a skirt” is a significant moment in demanding that respect.

You can watch Bad Bunny’s full performance below.

Thank you for standing with the LGBTQ+ community, Bad Bunny.

READ: Bad Bunny Is The Modern Icon The Queer Latino Community Needs And Deserves Right Now. Here’s Why

A Quick Explanation About What Is Happening In The Dominican Republic

Things That Matter

A Quick Explanation About What Is Happening In The Dominican Republic

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Dominicans across the world are protesting in unison to demand transparency in the recent elections in the Dominican Republic. The protests stem from a recent municipal election that many are calling into question. Faulty voting machines and a lack of transparency have set off a warning call within the global Dominican community fearing election tampering and a power grab. Here’s what we know so far.

Dominicans are demanding answers about irregularities in the latest election on the island.

Four hours into the voting process, the Dominican government reported irregularities with the voting machines. According to officials, 60 percent of the voting machines were experiencing the same issue of showing voters incomplete ballots. Many showed just one party on the ballot. That’s when the government, in an unprecedented move, suspended the Feb. 16 elections.

People across the island have joined in taking to the streets to protest against the government’s decision to suspend the elections.

Tensions are flaring on the island about election tampering and voting after one party has ruled the presidency for 24 years. It is also three months until the general elections and Dominicans don’t trust the process after the latest snafu.

“The electronic vote failed us that morning,” Electoral Board Presiden Julio César Castaños Guzmán, said at a press conference.

Yet, Casatños Guzmán admitted that the Dominican government was warned that they knew of the issue before the elections began but were under the impression that they could be fixed when the machines were installed. The elections proved that the issue was not corrected.

Concerned Dominicans are desperately trying to shine a full light on what they consider an imminent dictatorship.

“The Dominican people are under a dictatorship disguised as democracy,” Alejandro Contreras, a protester in New York told NBC News. “We will be demanding the resignation of all the members of the electoral board, as well as a formal public explanation on the impunity and corruption within the government, among other issues.”

The protests and election fears come the same week as the Dominican Republic’s independence day.

On Feb. 27, 1844, the Dominican Independence War led to the imperial independence of the Dominican Republic from Haiti. The number of casualties from the war are unknown but Haiti is estimated to have lost three times more soldiers than the Dominican Republic.

The fears of a dictatorship are real on the island who was under a dictatorship for 31 years in the 20th century. Rafael Trujillo ruled the island with a brutal fist from February 1930 until his assassination in May 1961. He was president of the island for two terms covering 18 years from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952. After the last term, he ruled as an unelected military man keeping the island in fear.

All eyes are on the Dominican Republic and their government as Dominicans across the world fight to preserve its democracy.

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Sigue luchando. El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido. Viva la democracia.

READ: After A Year Of Bad Press, The Dominican Republic Launches Campaign To Bring Tourists Back