Animal rights crowd battle police at legislature

Backers of an animal rights bill brawled with police Thursday in front of the Asamblea Legislative.

The organization, Asociación para el Bienestar y Amparo Animal, and its supporters marched from Parque Central Thursday afternoon. Then they ignited two dummies representing Ottón Solís and Otto Guevara, two lawmakers who have given support to the sport of cock fighting.

Fuerza Pública officers doused the burning dummies, but when one officer tried to detain a man in the crowd, fist fights developed between the men and women in the crowd and the police officers. For a time police were outnumbered and gathered in a circle around the person being arrested.

Even women were punching and slapping at police officers, some of whom wore motorcycle helmets.

After more police arrived, and the crowd backed off,  police said there had been four arrests.

Much of the fighting was taped by individuals and even television crews. The Judicial Investigating Organization is becoming involved.

During the melee, Solís watched for a time from the second floor window of the legislative complex.

The proposed law, No. 18.298, contains much more than a prohibition against fighting roosters, but those who engage in such activity have rallied and seek to eliminate existing rules against such fights. The proposed law would increase penalties.

Cock fights are a long tradition in the Latin world. There is a lot of betting involved, and those who raise the birds, galleros, are proud of their roosters’ victories. The animals are fitted with sharp metal spurs to augment the killing power of the animal’s body part.

Typically such fights are held on Sundays in makeshift rings that include the illegal sale of alcohol and food. Fuerza Pública officers and agricultural officials frequently raid such locations and confiscate the birds.

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