LAST days of legal cockfights in Puerto Rico:

HIRAM Figueroa, rear's roosters to fight, a Puerto Rican tradition from the time of Spanish colonists that he learned as a teenager half a century ago and later taught his son.

Together they exercise their birds, clip their feathers and give them delicate sponge baths.

Now rows of dusty cages lie empty in Mr. Figueroa's backyard, a reminder of his fading livelihood.

He used to keep some  250 game fowl tucked behind their modest home in Vega Baja, a town west of San Juan, the capital. Now he is down to about half, a drop big enough that a neighbor told him that sometimes he no longer hears the incessant crowing.

The men who own most of the birds and pay the Figueroas for their care bought fewer chicks this year, knowing they would not need them for long.

Cockfighting will be outlawed in Puerto Rico and the United States territory in December, a long overdue ban in the eyes of animal welfare advocates who consider the practice cruel and outdated.

Louisiana, the last state to allow cockfighting, prohibited it more than a decade ago, in 2008. But unlike state legislation, which was enacted by elected representatives, this ban was passed by Congress, where Puerto Rico's 3.2 million people do not have a voting member.

Lawmakers slipped the ban into last year's farm bill, catching even the Puerto Rican government by surprise.

Since then, anxiety has gripped Mr. Figueroa and others who make a living from cockfighting. A recession has strangled the Puerto Rican economy for 13 years. the industry estimates it directly and indirectly employs some 20,000 people.

''This is our life,''Mr. Fifueroa sayid on a recent morning as he tossed dried corn kernels into the birds feeding dishes. ''If they take this away us, what are we going to do? I'm 70 years old and no one else is going to give me a job.''

In a territory where people feel deep resentment from over frequent slights from Washington, the imposed ban has struck most of those who have long engaged in cockfighting here as a violation of Puerto Ricans' Rights to make their own decisions and protect their cultural heritage.

Some of them sued in federal court seeking to overturn the ban before it takes effect in December.

The honor and serving of the latest operational research in happenings the world over, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Patricia Mazzei.


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