SPAIN – A longstanding Spanish past-time may be coming to an end!
Bullfighting has been the topic of heated debate over the years. The cultures that have grown up with it appreciate it the pageantry and suspense of the “sport.” Those who don’t share the same opinion despise it because of its cruelty to the bulls. The latter group seems to have gotten its wish as bullfighting might be facing its last days. The region of Catalonia has passed a law banning bullfighting.
The vote took place Wednesday in the Catalan Parliament and it prohibits bullfighting in 2012 in the northeastern region that centers on Barcelona. It’s a small step in the right direction for animal rights activists, but they are pushing to extend the ban. There are no significant national movements to do away with bullfighting in the rest of Spain, however.
“We are euphoric with the banning of bullfighting in Catalonia. It’s the beginning of the end,” said Nacho Paunero, president of the animal rights group Refuge, which collected 50,000 signatures in a bid to force a similar vote in the Madrid regional parliament. “We want debate in Madrid now.”
This recent vote might be more smoke than fire, however. Many feel that the banning of bullfighting in the region was a political statement by a wealthy and powerful region that likes to march to the beat of its own drum. Their vote might be more of a matter of trying to be different, than actually having sympathy for the half-ton beasts
The center-right Popular Party, which is fervent about the idea of a unified Spain run from Madrid, said it will fight the ban in hopes of preserving tradition.
Barcelona is only a small blip on the bullfighting radar. The region has only one functioning bullring, which stages about 15 fights a year that are rarely sold out. There are roughly 1,000 bout per season nationwide.
“I’m not particularly a fan of bullfighting, but there’s a long tradition of it in Spain, especially in Barcelona. I am pretty much against banning anything. I would have voted against it,” said Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the late former head of the International Olympic Committee.
Bullfighting has had some notable famous supporters, Ernest Hemigway being perhaps the most notable. Bullfighting will continue to be a hotly debated topic.