Clashes erupted this week in southwest France between anti-bullfighting campaigners and supporters of the sport in which the bull always loses. Eight protesters were reportedly hurt after violence broke out at an arena in Rion-des-Landes on Saturday. Some told EuroNews they were assaulted by the police.
Anti-bullfighting activist Jean-Pierre Garrigues was among the protesters. He described the condition of a 60-year-old fellow protester and said the man was injured severely enough to be airlifted to hospital and put in a medically induced coma.
Although they are banned in some parts of the country, bullfights take place in the southwest of France during the summer but are becoming increasingly controversial.
Last September, France’s Constitutional Court refused to ban the spectacles or classify them animal cruelty; however, discussions are expected to continue.
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Does Bullfighting Have a Future in Spain?
A July 2013 article, “Is it 'adios' for Spanish bullfights?, dissects the impact of Spain’s faltering economy on bullfighting.
“With six million people out of work, even many hardcore aficionados are thinking twice about paying the 40 or 50 Euros required for even a half-decent seat in a major bullring.”
Six million people are reported unemployed and, with the loss of disposable income, the demand for bullfights has dwindled drastically. The report states that in 2007, more than 2,500 were held across Spain. This year, there will be fewer than 500, a drop of around 15 percent on 2012 alone, reports DW.
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The bull breeding farms have also been affected by the crisis, and a breeder named Ruedas stated, “Demand for bulls has dropped by nearly 50 percent.”
Bullfighting is not just battling the economic crisis. It is also facing indifference, states DW. A recent poll showed that fewer than 30 percent of Spaniards support it.
Bill Lyon, an American bullfighting expert who has lived in Spain since the early 1960s, blames the decline partially on the competition of televised sports, movies and the mobility provided by modern automobiles.
“Now bullfighting's just one more urban entertainment [it's] losing against much more popular and often less controversial pastimes,” Lyon said.
What cannot be ignored is that animal rights activists, like those protesting in southern France this week, have been relentless in their demands that bullfighting end. As a result, in 2011 the region of Catalonia in Spain joined the Canary Islands in banning bullfights. The Basque city of San Sebastian has also stopped staging them.
Unlike cockfighting and dog fighting, bullfighting thrives on being a public spectacle, thus protesters have been able to use this visibility to strike their own blows to stop the senseless cruelty in a world that is increasingly aware that animals do suffer.
Bullfighting Banned Here
In May 2013, Sonora has become the first Mexican state to ban bullfighting, recently passing the long-awaited Animal Protection Law addressing cruelty to animals.
In February 2013, animal-rights activists in Mexico City stripped down to their underwear and covered themselves with red paint to symbolize the blood of bulls in the cruel “sport” of bullfighting. New animal cruelty laws recently passed in Mexico City gives them reason to believe that a ban on the traditional pastime of bullfighting will soon be a reality.
In May 2011, voters in Ecuador recently banned bullfighting in the country, ending 500 years of stabbing ... virtual disappearance of bullfighting. Bulls are still being killed in the ring in Panama.
In September 2011, the last bull has been stabbed to death in Barcelona now that the last scheduled bullfight has taken place in Catalonia, the Spanish region that's widely considered to be bullfighting's birthplace. Faced with nearly empty arenas and growing condemnation of killing bulls for "sport," the ban on this sadistic spectacle officially goes into effect January 1, and bullfighting is on its way out elsewhere as well.
A Dying Sport
Sharon Nunez, spokeswoman for Igualdad Animal, told DW bullfighting will definitely disappear — not just because of the cruelty; she also cites economic reasons for her prediction that it is a dying sport.
"We can see a growing amount of people who are opposed to bullfighting ... 129 million Euros coming from the European community go into bullfighting," she said. "This means the people in England, the people in France are paying for bullfighting. So I mean it's just a matter of time — of people being aware of how much this is costing and how much it's hurting animals."