Poet : Culture No Excuse for Cockfighting

Hispanics Don’t Support the Blood Sport, Santiago Baca Says

I will destroy you, for I am the Cockinator, ender of worlds.
I will destroy you, for I am the Cockinator, ender of worlds.

We got this from the nonprofit group, the Center of Southwest Culture. Jimmy Santiago Baca is a bad-ass New Mexico poet whose bio includes learning to read and write while doing time in maximum security prison. Here’s what he has to say about cockfighting:

It’s amazing that some proponents of cockfighting in New Mexico are still trying to use Hispanic culture as an excuse to continue the barbaric activity in our state.

The fact is that a huge majority of New Mexico’s Hispanics have said repeatedly in numerous polls that they are against cockfighting and in favor of a ban on this cruel activity. In a 2001 poll, nearly 76% of New Mexico Hispanics were strongly in favor of banning cockfighting.

Cockfighting proponents also argue that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provides a right for New Mexico Hispanics to engage in cockfighting. But New Mexico’s Attorney General Patricia Madrid, in an April 30, 2003 opinion, wrote that the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo “provides no such right” for Hispanics or anyone else to engage in cockfighting.

In 2006, the United Farm Workers of America, founded by Cesar Chávez and Dolores Huerta, supported a ban on cockfighting, writing in part, “Cockfighting is an unacceptable form of animal cruelty…”

And last summer, Rosa Rosales, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) wrote about cockfighting: “These barbaric practices have no place in the Latino culture and society.”

So it is clear that arguments by some New Mexico Hispanic state legislators that cockfighting is a closely held Hispanic tradition simply do not hold water.

Why then, do these legislators continue to support cockfighting?

Now that the “it’s an Hispanic tradition” argument has been shown to be untrue, these few Hispanic legislators are arguing that cockfighting is an important thread in New Mexico’s economy and that is why they continue to support this brutal practice.

In fact, there is no basis for the economic argument. Rather than making such a specious argument, it would behoove these legislators to help create real economic opportunities for New Mexico’s rural communities. Posturing in favor of an illusionary economic activity is easier than actually doing something about rural poverty, but in this cynical world, perhaps these rural Hispanic legislators believe they can fool their constituents into believing support for cockfighting is a defense of rural lifestyles.

Hispanic voters need to pick up the phone and call these few misguided Hispanic legislators today and tell them that a ban on cockfighting is a first step toward actually representing the wishes of their constituents.

Jimmy Santiago Baca