AP PHOTOS: Cockfighting is popular pastime in poor Haiti

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AP PHOTOS: Cockfighting is popular pastime in poor Haiti

PETIONVILLE, Haiti (AP) -- Cockfighting lives on in Haiti, where weekly fights draw crowds of men, hungry for the drama and the promise of a big payout.

The centuries-old sport, pitting two roosters against each other in a fight often to the death, is vilified in the U.S., where it is illegal. But it's a popular pastime for Haitians, especially in the slums and rural areas of the hemisphere's poorest nation.

Aficionados defend it as part of the island's culture.

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At the Route Freres cockfighting arena in Petionville, makeshift rooster cages have signs in French: "If you need people's respect, you first need to respect yourself."

At the Morne Hercule arena men shout out bets and flash cash as roosters prepare to fight.

Cockfighting fits into a gambling culture that includes fighting bulls and "borlettes," gaudily painted outlets that play on New York State Lottery numbers. For people living on less than $2 dollars a day, as most Haitians do, the chance to win money betting on cockfights or the lottery is one of the main attractions.

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