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In the Newsroom

February 19, 2009
Betting on cockfights for fast money in Haitian slum

While reporting in Haiti, Worldfocus correspondent Benno Schmidt stumbled upon a weekly cockfight on the edge of a slum.

On the outskirts of Port-au-Prince’s infamous slum — Cité Soleil — we stumbled into this explosion of noise, excitement, money and above all else, anticipation.

We couldn’t understand why the Haitian men, just a few feet from the Caribbean in the outer extremes of the slum, weren’t letting the roosters off their leashes to fight.

This was one of the several cockfights held every Sunday in various parts of Port-au-Prince. The whole point is for two prized roosters to fight it out unrestrained, with betting and bragging rights going to the winners.

In a country where many live on less than a dollar a day, gambling is a way to make a lot of money fast. The men were clearly getting their prized fighters ready: Washing them down, winding them up and pointing them in the direction of their anticipated foe.

But then our Haitian fixer/guide told us they were waiting for us — the Worldfocus crew — to make a bet. They weren’t going to bet their own money and thought the camera crew might be interested in placing a wager. So, the extraordinary images in the above video were as close as we came to seeing an actual cockfight here in Haiti.

No money to wager meant that these roosters got a pass — at least that Sunday. They didn’t have to battle it out because no one was putting any money on the table — at least not for the fights.

– Benno Schmidt

For more Worldfocus coverage of Haiti, visit our extended coverage page: Haiti’s Poor.

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1 comment


Michael Vick had to leave football for dog fighting. What happens to you in Haiti? I guess the worse has already happened. Seriouly, how do we explain to folks that they should not cut the forest the island and cause pain to sentient beings (like chickens), when even the advanced societies so not understand that we are going to have to learn to live in such a way as to cause the least amount of suffering to other living beings (trees and chicken, included). It is a hard leap forward, but we are learning.

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