Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

22 de Febrero del 2000


Placetas. - Seventy-eight people - including a nine-year-old boy - were on board a truck near Fomento, about five kilometers from a place known as Platanico, heading for a cockfight. That's the custom every week. But on that Sunday, Feb. 13, an uncustomary thing happened. The truck was stopped by two police agents, named Antonion and Heraldo. The truck, plate No. CB0444 was licensed only to carry passengers.

So the two agents imposed a fine of 60 pesos on each rider and nationalized (confiscated) 11 fighting cocks. The people had come from several villages in the area and brought along their own supplies of rum, boxes of cigars, bologna tidbits and cold drinks. Antonion and Heraldo nationalized all that, too.

Certain cockfights are not forbidden. For example, there is a cockpit set up by the government in Banao. When one approaches it, one finds it completely surrounded by wire mesh. On Sundays, an agent collects 10 pesos per person to enter. There also exist at least one cockpit for the Office of State Security (OSS) in the Interior Ministry (MININT). That pit allows entry to armed forces' and certain MININT officials.

But it is illegal to gamble at that pit. No bets may be placed at government cock fights at that location.

The villagers and country people of the Sancti Spiritus province, especially in the Fomento area maintain that the fights in non-state cockpits will continue in one form or another since they make up part of the local culture and that is how they have enjoyed themselves on Sundays since the first revolution a century ago or maybe longer. Obviously, people feel freer at a private unauthorized cockpit than at a government one, which is under police control like everything else. But on this occasion (Feb. 13) the cockfight ended with fines and without food or drinks or bets or party.

Marcos Yanes, Cuba Free Press.

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