San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Group promotes bill to legalize cockfighting

Lovers of the dubious sport of cockfighting, outlawed here 90 years ago, have come out of the closet with a bill in the Legislative Assembly to legalize the activity. They say they are ready to fight tooth and nail – or beak and claw – for its passage.

Alexander Pinto, spokesman for the Fighting Cock Breeders Association, claims he has worked two years on the legislation with an unnamed group of legal experts “of great renown.” 

The association is going all out, publishing a full-page ad in the daily La Nación Monday defending the cockfights prohibited by law since 1922. Despite the fact that anyone clandestinely fighting cocks is breaking the law, Pinto claims his group contains 5,000 members and 180 breeders of fighting birds.

With perhaps more enthusiasm than scriptural accuracy, the group claims that cocks have been pitted against one another in the ring since biblical times. “There were fighting cocks in Noah’s Ark,” the ad claims.

But Antonio Van Der Laat, legal advisor to the National Animal Health Service, says he is certain the fighting birds present a health threat to commercial poultry. Besides, he says, “It’s a matter of cruelty to animals.”

The fighting bird breeders say they are being unjustly discriminated against. “[Animal] mistreatment is fishing,” their ad claims. “How does a fish die? Flapping and jumping from a lack of oxygen.”

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