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Yucatán authorities say it’s about time to regulate lasso tournaments

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Bloodsports like bullfighting, cockfighting and lasso tournaments remain popular in much of rural Yucatán, but their time may be running out. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Yucatán lawmakers called for a ban on bloodsports after a teenage vaquero lost his life during a lasso tournament earlier this week in Kanasín. 

This was not the first time such accidents have taken place, as the violent nature of these tournaments often leads to serious injuries and death. 

An upcoming lasso tournament to benefit the family of the fallen vaquero is being referred to as well-intentioned but ultimately misguided.  

Lasso tournaments can be described as a bloodier version of a rodeo, with the death of horses often being a grisly consequence. 

Vaqueros at lasso tournaments tend to be young men with little to no formal training in the “sport.” Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

As much as calls for regulation are being heard to safeguard the safety of vaqueros, activists are also raising their voices against the practice in the name of animal welfare. 

But arguments stemming from tradition, and popular support especially in rural areas, have kept authorities from clamping down on the practice. 

There have even been recorded incidents, such as in Tizimín in 2019, where city officials have been said to have organized these events personally. 

Earlier: New law to drive bullfighting out of Mexico City

One of the lawmakers leading the charge against lasso tournaments is state Rep. Víctor Hugo Lozano Poveda.

“I understand the arguments in favor of keeping this practice alive, but I simply can’t in good conscience condone animal abuse. I am in favor of completely prohibiting these tournaments,” Lozano Poveda said in a press conference. 

But if other bloody “sports” involving animals, like cockfighting, are anything to go by, regulating or prohibiting these activities will likely be easier said than done.

“Illegal cockfights happen all the time here, and local authorities don’t bat an eye because they fear it will make them less likely to win elections in the future,” Manuél de la Cruz, of Oxkutzcab, said on Facebook. 

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