Mr. Wayne Pacelle of the Animal Wellness Foundation has been making assertions about cockfighting on Guam and I felt compelled to open the discussion to others like me that feel differently than the statistics and feelings towards cockfighting that he has been providing to the media.
Mr. Pacelle, I’d like to point out that while Guam is a Territory of the United States, Guam has a unique and rich culture, and although we are countrymen, our beliefs and customs certainly differ. While you and your group portray cockfighting as an illegal activity ripe with animal cruelty, I see a cultural activity that is a respected tradition going back through generations of cockfighters that can point to voluminous recorded evidence as far back as 1521, when Spanish sailors recorded small doves fighting in cages while residents watched for leisure. While you argue for the rights of an animal that is one of the largest food sources in the world, I argue that our residents are losing part of their lifestyles, identities, and for many, their income.
The cultural practice spanning 498 years may seem trivial to you and your group; however, this federal action is having a negative impact on Guam. It has been estimated that some 10 million dollars in revenue are produced by the cockfighting industry on Guam and Saipan.
How can you fight for chicken rights but ignore the ever-pressing concern of human rights? While you are all concerned about the rights of the chickens of Guam, where is your advocacy for the people of Guam? While you are concerned about the importation of chickens to Guam, I am concerned about illicit drugs that are being imported, and while you are concerned about the welfare of our chickens, I am concerned that far too many of our residents are on welfare. Basta di Malaña, Mr. Pacelle.
Angel Santos once wrote:
“Oh say can you see, by dawn’s early light,
If we are your friend, restore our human right;
Justice and Equality, is all that we ask,
You act as if it’s an impossible task”
Until you care about the rights of the CHamoru people don’t talk to me about my own culture. Greater empires than the Animal Wellness Foundation have tried to erase the CHamoru culture yet here we are, standing together, and we will continue to stand for our children, their heritage and our traditions.
Sen. Jose “Pedo” Terlaje is chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, Border Safety, Military and Veterans Affairs, Mayors’ Council, Infrastructure, and Public Transit