Mexico’s Supreme Court Prevents Nayarit from Considering Cockfights as Cultural Heritage

In Mexico, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) invalidated a three-year-old decree that declared bullfights and cockfights as intangible cultural heritage in the state of Nayarit. Out of five Second Chamber justices, four of them voted in favor of revoking the decree and declaring it unconstitutional among other arguments, citing that animals are “deserving of decent treatment.”

The ruling came in at a very tense time between the courts and bullfighting activists after the closure of Plaza Mexico in the capital as ordered by a federal judge. The ruling was also a response to the lawsuit filed by Cuenta Conmigo Tepic, a civil association. The lawsuit challenged the decree which was presented by former governor Antonio Echeverría and was approved in Nayarit in 2019.

The SCJN ruled that bullfights, cockfights, charreria (an equestrian sport), and other similar activities are not deserving of intangible cultural heritage status. A majority of justices agreed that animals are not “things at the indiscriminate service of humans but rather species deserving of respectable treatment.”

Previously, organizers of bullfights, cockfights, and other events had financial support from the government due to the cultural heritage designation. The SCJN rules that it was improper for such funding to go to activities that are not “generally accepted by the community.”

While the SCJN invalidated the cultural heritage designation of cockfights and bullfights, it was also made clear that the ruling doesn’t ban bullfighting and cockfighting, nor does it declare them to be unconstitutional.