There’s a move under way in Hidalgo to preserve cockfighting by declaring it intangible cultural heritage.
Lawmaker Enrique Garnica of president-elect López Obrador’s Morena party made a proposal in the state Congress yesterday to protect the blood sport from prohibition, after being lobbied by the state’s cockfighting association.
“Animal [rights] associations have every right [to oppose cockfighting] but they must understand that there are things that are a given [in our culture]. This is not an initiative to increase violence in this sport but just to recognize it as intangible heritage,” he said.
The lawmaker also claimed that “a lot of environmentalists go to palenques,” or cockfighting rings, to watch the sport.
“It’s like a vegetarian who eats meat when there are no vegetables,” Garnica said, seemingly insinuating that there are few other entertainment options in the state.
Javier Pelcastre Guerrero, president of the Hidalgo Cockfighting Committee, said that cockfight supporters have been lobbying lawmakers for years to try to have the sport declared cultural heritage but until now none had agreed to take up the cause in Congress.
He said that not only is cockfighting one of the most important traditions in the country, it also makes a significant contribution to the economy and creates jobs.
Across the country, there are more than 1,200 cockfighting clubs and associations, which hold on average 20 events each during a season that runs from November to June.
Thousands of people work in the sector and it contributes more than 36 billion pesos (US $1.8 billion) annually to government coffers in tax, Pelcastre said.
Cockfighting has already been declared intangible cultural heritage in the states of Querétaro, Tlaxcala, Aguascalientes and Zacatecas.
Veracruz, on the other hand, became the first state to prohibit the sport by passing legislation in November 2016. A Supreme Court ruling earlier this month upheld the legality of the ban.
Hidalgo gamecock breeder Mario Vilchis said the cockfighting ban in Veracruz has only sent the sport underground and that the cultural heritage proposal sought to prevent that from happening locally.