Very few cultural manifestations in the world can be as divisive and controversial as the bullfight.
Many find what happens in the bullring as abhorrent as can be, while some others are fervent admirers or defend it from a cultural standpoint.
The millenary Spanish-style bullfighting is practiced in the westernmost countries of Europe: Spain, Portugal, Southern France, as well as Latin American former Spanish colonies of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.
The Spanish Fighting Bull, while subjected to unspeakable violence during the ‘corrida de toros’, is bred for aggression and a strong physique, therefore is raised free-range with little human contact. Proponents of the bullfight argue the bull ‘only has one bad day in its life’.
In Mexico, the traditional spectacle is forbidden in some states, and in the capital, Mexico City, it was banned in June 2022.
Now, the country’s Supreme Court of Justice has overturned the ban, leading to feverish anticipation of bullfighting’s return to Mexico City.
In the Mexican capital is located the Plaza México, with a capacity of 48,000 seats, the largest bullring in the world.
Associated Press reported:
“’To know that the dream is even closer pushes me further’, said Juan Esteban Arboleda Gómez, an aspiring bullfighter, or ‘novillero’, from Colombia who moved to the Mexican capital to pursue a career that the lower court’s indefinite injunction delayed. Arboleda Gómez, who is known professionally as Juan Gómez ‘Dynasty’, is among thousands of people who struggled to make ends meet during the past year and a half. For them, and for fans of, the high court’s ruling last month was a source of relief and celebration.”
The ban was prompted by a legal complaint by activists, determined to bring about the end of the controversial spectacle in Mexico, where it has been practiced for more than 500 years.
“No dates have been announced yet for new bullfights. But their expected resumption in Plaza Mexico has renewed the worries of animal rights activists. The hiatus stemmed from a legal complaint brought by the organization Justicia Justa, which alleged that bullfights created an unhealthy environment by subjecting Mexico City residents to violence and animal cruelty.”
As we see, the ban was not justified for the animal cruelty in itself, but rather for the effect of it on the human population of the metropolis.
Bullfighting was banned for a period in Mexico in the 1890s, and while nowadays the fights are still held in most of the country, they remain judicially blocked in the states of Sinaloa, Guerrero, Coahuila, and Quintana Roo, as well as in the western city of Guadalajara.
It is estimated that globally, around 180,000 bulls are killed in bullfights every year.
“At the same time, bullfighting generates 80,000 direct jobs, and 146,000 indirect jobs across the country, according to figures of the National Association of Breeders of Fighting Bulls in Mexico. Overall the industry generates approximately $400 million a year. Mexico City’s massive bullfighting ring, Plaza Mexico, is considered the cathedral of Mexican bullfighting and is one of the three main bullrings in the world along with Las Ventas in Madrid and La Maestranza in Spain’s city of Seville.
The bullfighting ban was railed against by fans like Daniel Salinas, a 63-year-old writer whose work has documented the more than 70 years of history in Plaza Mexico. On a recent day, he considered the empty plaza, which in its time would rumble with the cry of ‘Olé!’ ringing out from some 40,000 people in the 50-foot-high stands. He said after watching the fights as a child, he was struck by the desolation of the famous ring.
‘That they took away your right to come, well, the truth is that you feel your freedom has been curtailed’, Salinas said.”
Four judges in a Supreme Court panel ruled unanimously in December that Justicia Justa didn’t prove that the fights caused ‘imminent and irreparable damage’ and that prohibiting bullfights restricted the rights of people connected to the industry.