The Cayman Islands, home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, epicurean excellence and … cockfighting?
That is not the kind of marketing slogan we would expect to pass muster at the Department of Tourism. Nor is cockfighting an activity that our islands can afford to condone.
If last month’s raid is any indication, the unsavory pastime has gained a firm foothold on Grand Cayman. Police say that a search of a property in the area of North Sound Estates uncovered more than 40 roosters that had sustained various injuries caused by acts of cruelty.
Also found were artificial spurs, along with prohibited biomedical drugs and other implements, and 40 additional chickens at various stages of maturity. The property owner, a 50-year-old Bodden Town man, was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty.
The number of birds and peripheral supplies that were seized suggests that this was a large breeding and “training” facility for the blood sport – in which two roosters specifically bred and “trained” for aggression are placed in a small ring where they fight to the death.
Cockfighting is said to be one of the world’s oldest spectator sports. It can be found all over the world – from the Caribbean to the Philippines, from the United States to Japan – and has been banned in nearly as many, including the Cayman Islands. That is for good reason.
The seedy enterprise is, indeed, cruel to animals. But much more than that, it is emblematic of a larger, human problem.
Partially due to its illegality, and absolutely stemming from the brutal and bloodthirsty nature of the matches, the underground cockfighting community (we use the term loosely) attracts rough characters and provides a fertile breeding ground for criminality, iniquity and vice.
Gambling is likely common, as spectators place wagers (illegally) on the outcomes of the matches. Illegal drugs, guns and other trafficking activities may take place. Children may be present, exposed to substance abuse, vulgar behavior and gruesome violence. We are not talking about fancy hats, opera glasses and paper fans at Churchill Downs or Royal Ascot.
Perhaps most troubling, the presence of organized cockfighting in Grand Cayman is one more piece of evidence of the coarsening of our society. The activity police discovered in North Sound Estates demonstrates the peril our country faces of developing, or tolerating, a permanent criminal underclass defined by flagrant and consistent flouting of the law.
Cockfights, gambling, illegal motorbiking, burglaries, robberies, assaults of citizens and police – these disreputable “activities” are more than mere crimes. They are symptoms of a malaise threatening the well-being of our society and the foundation of our economic success.
Let us be clear and unequivocal: For decades, Cayman has deservedly attained an international reputation as a safe, conservative, tranquil and beautiful haven for our residents – and destination for our visitors. We have succeeded beyond the imagination of many of our Caribbean neighbors who have given short shrift to the rule of law and order.
We remain the “go to” destination in the region, and we must protect that reality with every resource at our disposal.
In an overly politically correct world, intolerance is often viewed as a social sin.
In fact, when it comes to maintaining civility and tranquility in our community, intolerance is the opposite: It is a virtue. And when Cayman encounters something as socially heinous as cockfighting on our shores, zero tolerance is the only advisable, and acceptable, response.