Puerto Rican government sides with cockfighters in federal suit

Puerto Rican government sides with cockfighters in federal suit
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Puerto Rico's government Thursday filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit to overturn a federal ban on cockfighting in territories.

Puerto Rico Chief of staff Ricardo Llerandi said in a statement the territorial government had joined the lawsuit filed by the Club Gallístico de Puerto Rico against the federal government in a San Juan federal court.

"We have made the determination to sign on as friends of the court in this suit. We do not favor this prohibition that would affect families who live on the economy surrounding this sector in Puerto Rico. We have been and we will be beside the cockfighters in support of this sport," said Llerandi in a statement.

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Cockfighting is a premier sport in Puerto Rico, with entire industries built around it.

Fights take place all over the island, from small venues in rural areas to San Juan's stadium-like Coliseo Isla Verde.

The Farm Bill signed in December by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE included a ban on cockfighting in all U.S. territories that's scheduled to take effect next December.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R) actively lobbied Congress against the ban, but were not successful in removing the language from the Farm Bill.

The ban was included as part of anti-animal cruelty provisions long sought by animal rights activists on the mainland.

But Puerto Ricans panned the measure, using it as an example of a law passed by a legislature in which they are not equally represented.

González-Colón in February presented a bill to revert the ban in the territories.