Officials Cracking Down on Mexican Rodeos Held in U.S.

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Times have changed for rodeo. When rodeo-related sporting events got started hundreds of years ago, there was no such thing as animal rights, and there were certainly no animal activists penning letters to politicians and making a fuss about every perceived cruelty to animals. Today, with the dramatic rise of empathy toward animals and shifting sensibilities throughout the developed world, more and more rodeo events of old are being viewed as intolerably inhumane.

Mexican rodeos, for example, are known as essential events to certain segments of Mexican culture. People who live in rural rodeo areas live for their charreadas, as the festivals are called, which are part party, part rodeo, and widely revered.

But in recent years, the charreadas have begun to come under fire for events that commonly lead to animal injury. For example, an event known as horse tripping, which involves snaring the legs of a mare and bringing her down, often leads to broken bones. Steer tailing, in which a cowboy flips a steer by its tail, leads to broken bones and all sorts of bloody injuries for the steers.

These events still go largely unchallenged in Mexico, where the culture is much more tolerant of these cruel events, as well as other cruelty-based sports such as bullfighting. But with a wave of charreadas popping up in Mexican immigrant communities within the U.S., these events are coming under greater scrutiny and, in many places, even being banned.

Multiple states, including California, Nebraska, and Illinois, have already taken measures to ban the cruelest charreadas events, and more measures are set to take effect soon. Some immigrant communities are worried that the charreadas could even be banned entirely.

Naturally, many within the Mexican-community are viewing these measures as affronts to their culture, potentially grounded in anti-immigrant sentiment.

But opponents of the charreadas deny that these moves have anything to do with anti-Mexican sentiment. The fact is that these events cause harm to animals, and they would be banned no matter who was engaging in them. Animal activists point to many other activities—for example, dogfighting—that are banned in the U.S. and are not considered to be socially acceptable.

In the end, in spite of the worries, few are calling for the end of charreadas entirely. American rodeos are wildly popular and fairly uncontroversial, and many hope that charreadas can gain the same status—but without the cruel events.

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