The debate over cockfighting and other blood sports has moved into Oaxaca, where lawmakers are considering an animal protection bill that would ban cockfights and bullfights and restrict the sale of some animals.
The measure, which is being encouraged by animal rights activists, would punish offenders with sizeable fines and even jail time.
But opponents of the bill, who gathered yesterday at the state Congress building, argue that its approval will criminalize their only means of making a living. Many also complain that the bill constitutes aggression against community traditions.
Josué Ramírez Luis, a member of a rooster breeders’ association, warned that the law would criminalize several of the principal activities of livestock breeders and farmers in Oaxaca and could have serious repercussions for the state’s economy.
“We are making our presence felt [in Congress] to prevent this law from affecting our traditions and way of life.”
The head of the congressional committee considering the bill, César Morales, reassured the protesters that the committee would conduct a thorough consultation before taking action on the bill.
“This won’t be presented to legislators until all the involved parties have been taken into account; this won’t be forced [on anyone].”
In response to the reception given to cockfighting supporters, animal rights activists threatened a counter protest. The Animal Protection Society demanded that lawmakers create a legal framework with harsh penalties for torture and mistreatment of animals, control the population of owner-less dogs and implement measures to create a culture of respect toward animals and wildlife.
The activists also urged legislators to revoke licenses for spectacles that exploit animals, including zoos, circuses, rodeos and fairs and to retract trophy hunting permits.
They said that several municipalities in central Oaxaca use especially cruel practices to kill street dogs, including electrocution and poisoning, while the same authorities permit the overpopulation and exploitation of farm animals.
If the Oaxaca Congress approves the bill, the state would become the fifth in Mexico to ban bullfighting after Sonora, Guerrero and Coahuila and Quintana Roo, and the third to outlaw cockfighting after Veracruz and Quintana Roo.
Meanwhile, bullfighting in Aguascalientes, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Querétaro, Tlaxcala and Zacatecas and cockfighting in Puebla, Tlaxcala and México state have the status of “intangible cultural heritage.”
Source: Milenio (sp)