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.

Credit: @nutmegradio / Twitter

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.

Credit: @policeofficer / Twitter

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.

Credit: @newshour / Twitter

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. 

Credit: @nytimesnational / Twitter

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.

Credit: @andreagonram / Twitter

“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

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Puerto Rican Boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Of Killing Of Pregnant Woman

Things That Matter

Puerto Rican Boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Of Killing Of Pregnant Woman

Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez is charged with murdering Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz, who was pregnant at the time. In a virtual court hearing earlier this week, Verdejo Sánchez pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to the murder.

Boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez is being charged with murder in connection to the death of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz.

Earlier this month, news broke that Rodríguez Ortiz’s body was found floating in a lagoon. The news shocked Puerto Rico because Rodríguez Ortiz was pregnant when she was killed. Verdejo Sánchez, who is married and has a young daughter, was quickly arrested and charged with murder in connection with her death.

According to an FBI complaint, Verdejo Sánchez is accused of punching Rodríguez Ortiz in the face before injecting her with an unknown substance. She was then tied up and heavy blocks were attached to the bindings before being thrown from a bridge. Verdejo Sánchez then allegedly shot at Rodríguez Ortiz’s body before fleeing the scene.

Verdejo Sánchez and Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez were both indicted in the crime.

According to reports, Cadíz Martinez helped Verdejo Sánchez commit the crime and has worked as a witness for the FBI as they investigate the murder. Both men have pleaded not guilty to one count of carjacking resulting in death, one count of kidnapping resulting in death, and one count of killing an unborn child. Verdejo Sánchez is also facing one count of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

The two men are facing federal charges that could come with federal death penalties.

The death penalty is illegal in Puerto Rico but special circumstances in the case could mean federal death penalties. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico said in a statement that the crime was done “by payment or the promise of payment.” That is enough to escalate the matter to a federal crime.

“Keishla Rodríguez-Ortiz was taken from a family that loved her, and she and her child were denied the most fundamental right of life, and the joy of knowing what that life could have been,” United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow said in a statement. “We hope that this process brings some measure of solace to Keishla’s family. This case also underscores the message of cooperation with law enforcement that I have been repeating to the community – If you have knowledge of criminal activity, even if you are a participant in that activity, do the right thing and come forward to authorities. The prosecutors and the law enforcement agencies that have worked tirelessly, and who continue to assist in the ongoing investigation of this case, are to be commended.”

Rodríguez Ortiz’s death has sparked outrage as the island confronts a spike in femicide since January.

Twenty-one women have been killed in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the year. According to Observatorio de Equidad de Género, 60 women were killed last year in Puerto Rico, which is a 62 percent increase from 2019. Puerto Ricans are demanding justice and answers as the same femicide gripping the rest of Latin America is on the rise.

This story is ongoing and mitú will update on the story as it develops.

READ: Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

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Nopales, The OG Ancestral Food We’ve Been Eating Since Waaaay Before Plant Based Foods Became Trendy

Culture

Nopales, The OG Ancestral Food We’ve Been Eating Since Waaaay Before Plant Based Foods Became Trendy

I can literally talk food until my babas drip. Don’t judge. The comelón life chose me and I’m not mad at it. Because growing up Latino meant breakfast wasn’t always cereal, and dinner wasn’t always mac and cheese. I grew up con más sabor en mis platillos than most Americans. And, at the time, I didn’t even realize that many of the foods my family was trying to get me to eat were ancestral foods. From chocolate to cocoa and chia to nopalitos, I blame los ancestros for my obsession with food and all the glorious ingredients that have been passed down for generations.

My knees already feel weak, fam, because today I’m gonna be talking nopalitos. Ya me estoy chupando los dedos, thinking back to how I grew up with these babies always in the refri in that Nopalitos jar, ready to be thrown into a sauce or encima de una carne asada. It turns out this soul-feeding food is one of the OG ancestral foods that have been used by our people for thousands of years. Ahí les va un poco de historia:

The Mexica introduced the world to the “fruit of the Earth.”

In Náhuatl, the word for nopal translates to “fruit of the Earth.” I don’t know what the Náhuatl word for “bomb-delicioso” is, but in my opinion, that should also be the name for nopales. And the Aztecs must have felt this way too because one of the most famous cities in the Aztec Empire – Tenochtitlán, the empire’s religious center – was named “prickly pear on a rock.” Iconic.

According to legend, the city was built after an Azteca priest spotted an eagle perched on a nopal plant, carrying a snake in its mouth. The priest, obviously extremadamente blown away by this, ran back to his village just so he could gather everyone to check out this crazy eagle with a snake in its mouth. As they watched, the cactus beneath the eagle grew into an island – eventually becoming Tenochtitlán. I’ll give you 3 seconds to just process that. 1…2…3. Please take more time if you need it. The image of the eagle carrying a snake, its golden talons perched on a nopal growing from a rock, can now be found on the Mexican flag.

Today, we know that the Mexica were right to call nopales the plant of life.

In Mexico, it’s still common to place a handful of nopal flowers in a bath to help relax achy muscles. And nopales are becoming more popular than ever in beauty treatments to help fight aging. But, y’all are too beautiful to be needing them for that, so let’s talk about what’s important — eating them.

There are so many ways you can mix this iconic ingredient into your meals.

We should all be eating our green foods. Your tía, your abuela, your primo, everyone…except your ex. Your ex can eat basura. I said what I said. But, nopalitos are especially important. These tenacious desert plants can be eaten raw, sautéed, pickled, grilled – they’re even used as pizza toppings. Though for some people, nopales – with their spines and texture – can be intimidating. After cutting off the spines and edges, and cutting them into slices, they will bleed a clear slime. But boiling for 20 minutes will take care of that. Or make it even easier on yourself and avoid espinas by buying them all ready-to-go from the brand we all know and love, DOÑA MARIA® Nopalitos.

Check it out, I’m even gonna hook it up with that good-good, because if you’re looking for ways to enjoy your nopales, I got’chu with some starter links to recipes: Hibiscus and Nopal Tacos, Nopal Tostadas, Roasted Nopales con Mole, and Lentil Soup con Nopales.  One of my personal favorite ways to eat them is in a beautiful Cactus Salad, full of color and flavor. Trust. I rate these dishes 10 out of 10, guaranteed to make your babas drip, and when you eat this ensalada de nopalitos, you will remember even your ancestors were dripping babas over this waaay before it was cool to eat plant-based foods.

So let’s give the poderoso nopal the spotlight it deserves by adding it to our shopping lists more often.

Rich in history, mythology, and practical uses, the nopal’s enduring popularity is a testament to its versatility. It’s time to give this classic ingredient the respect it deserves and recognize just how chingon our ancestors are for making nopales fire before plantbase foods were even trending.

Next time you’re at the supermercado, do your ancestors proud and add nopales to your shopping cart by picking up a jar of DOÑA MARIA® Nopalitos. This easy-to-use food will definitely give you a major boost of pride in your roots. Viva los nopalitos bay-beh!

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