The Bullfighting Beef: A Whole Lot of Bull
By RICARDO CASTILLO
The two-front legal battle against bullfighting in Mexico was postponed from last week to Thursday, June 9.
In essence, a municipal judge has allowed a temporary stay on bullfighting in the nation’s capital to continue while a lawsuit challenging its legality moves forward.
In both cases, bullfights, usually held at the 42,000-seat capacity monumental Mexico City’s Plaza México bullring, were suspended, for two different reasons.
The suspensions come at a time when the Plaza Mexico is not currently holding corridas (bull runs). Its next taurine event is slated for Saturday, July 2, when the production company operating programming has slated a Pamplonada, a style of corrida typical of the Saint Ysidro Catholic celebrations held in Pamplona, Spain, which include the running of the bulls on streets around the Plaza with the participation of fans, who can run along with the beasts. (As a bit of side info, this type of event has never been held before at Mexico’s 76-year-old bullring.)
Recently, “temporary suspensions” of bullfighting were issued for different reasons by a judge and the Mexico City Congress. In the court’s case, a group of individuals demand bullfights be banned altogether due to the sport being considered an act of cruelty against animals, while the one from the city’s Chamber of Deputies is reviewing making radical changes in the way bullfights are performed.
In response to the first claim, bullfight supporters are arguing that banning bullfights would constitute a “violation of and a unilateral assault against their human right to enjoy culture.”
Indeed, bullfighting is a longstanding tradition in Mexico, first introduced by the Spanish around 1562
Notwithstanding, five Mexican states — Sinaloa, Sonora, Coahuila, Guerrero and Quintana Roo — have already banned bullfighting, and in February, a committee at Mexico City’s Congress passed a bill to ban the sports as well.
But because the issue is a hot potato that few politicians wanted to touch, a full parliamentary vote was not scheduled.
However, when capital judge Jonathan Bass Herrera postponed a hearing on the potential discontinuation of the “temporary suspension” at the Mexico City Chamber of Deputies late last month, the issue became a political fireball.
Deputy Jesús Sesma Suárez, a Green Party militant and president of the Wellbeing for Animals Committee, said he was ready to hold a discussion on banning in bullfights the use of all types of piercing instruments, typical of bullfighting, currently permitted under the Mexico City Taurine Regulations.
The ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party boycotted the meeting and literally refused to discuss any radical change in the “brave fiesta,” as bullfights are known.
Sesma made it clear that, at least in the case of his commission, the gathering was being held “not to ban, but just to regulate” bullfights in Mexico City. He said that the committee was going to present a resolution “eliminating all types of violence against the animals,” a “solution” pro-bullfight politicians want to hear nothing about.
Sesma, an anti-bullfighting promoter, noted that the resolution was signed into law last December and what he is seeking now is to have it approved. No new date was issued for the next session.
Meanwhile, Plaza México is countersuing, arguing that the judge didn’t have the authority to pause bullfighting.
The order to suspend bullfights was promoted by a nongovernment organization called Just Justice (Justicia Justa), which is demanding insists that city authorities stop issuing permits of operation for the Plaza Mexico bullfight organizers. That hearing will be held on Thursday, when the judge will decide whether to continue allowing the municipal government to issue bullfight permits.
After the judge’s temporary suspension of the fights, the management at Plaza México requested a habeas corpus protection warrant from other judges, which it was granted. With those injunctions, the management has reinstated the Pamplonada, set to take place in July with a full permit granted by the corresponding Benito Juárez Municipality authorities.
Bullfights, regardless of how controversial they are, attract multitudes to the Benito Juárez, streaming tax-paying money in all directions and types of business.
Furthermore, bullfighting is a long-cherished tradition in Mexico and has been practiced for centuries.
What is clear is that trying to eliminate it without considering the consequences either socially or economically is an act of political folly.