3 Dec 2019

Guam set to defy US federal ban on cockfighting

4:12 pm on 3 December 2019

Guam leaders have indicated they will defy a US federal ban on cockfighting, which is due to start on 20 December.

A man prepares his bird before a cockfight

A man prepares his bird before a cockfight Photo: 123RF

Local senators, who have not yet held a public hearing on the Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety Act, have effectively decided to ignore it, the Guam Daily Post reports.

In its 2020 budget law, the legislature determined enforcement of the federal ban "shall be the lowest priority of the government of Guam".

The governor's office has also indicated Governor Lou Leon Guerrero will not be enforcing the ban.

The 2018 Farm Bill, enacted in last December, imposed a federal ban on cockfighting throughout the territories with a phase-in period of one year.

The ban drew serious criticism from some territorial residents and officials, who argue there is cultural and historical significance to the practice.

Puerto Rico attempted, unsuccessfully, to challenge the ban in federal court.

A House bill in Guam promising to reverse the ban was introduced in February but the measure has been sitting in a subcommittee since March.

On the US-controlled island, cockfighting is closely tied to religious events and mainly held at village fiestas.

The practice of setting two roosters against each other in death matches is already banned in all 50 states of America, but is to be extended to American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

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