Cockfighting has been declared a “cultural asset” by the mayor of Tianguistengo, Hidalgo, despite the fact that Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that fights between animals are illegal.
Mayor Febronio Rodríguez’s July 26 declaration, which coincided with the unveiling of a plaque and statue honoring fighting cocks in the town square, was met with approval from the municipality’s Association of Combat Bird Breeders, but virulently opposed by animal rights activists in the municipality.
Authorities defended the blood sport, saying it “gives identity to the municipality of Tianguistengo” and “helps to strengthen friendship with neighboring towns.”
The declaration came in response to “the urgency of animal groups that try to discredit these activities and misreport on the use, domestication, handling and treatment of animals that are raised in the region and that generate direct and indirect jobs.”
An estimated 3,000 people breed fighting cocks in Hidalgo, and the industry provides employment for 100,000 people, state legislator Rafael Garnica said last October.
Erika Ortigoza Vázquez, director of the animal rights organization Fundación Invictus, denounced the declaration.
“Fundación Invictus expresses its repudiation and rejection of this decision of the mayor and council of Tianguistengo to approve and classify this bloody practice as an ‘intangible cultural asset’ which exalts torture and the sadistic death of these birds, in addition to promoting illegal activities such as illegal gambling, carrying arms, and irresponsible consumption of alcohol that on many occasions ends in gunshots between the gamblers,” she stated in a letter.
“Unfortunately, instead of Mayor Febronio Rodríguez promoting to the public the importance of staying home, avoiding large gatherings and taking extreme sanitary measures, he is more concerned with justifying cockfights,” she said.