Bullfighting ban to have huge economic costs: supporters
Catalonia's move to ban bullfighting on Wednesday will have financial costs for the region as well as for the sector, which was already struggling due to Spain's economic downturn, the industry and supporters said.
"The ban will be economically disastrous for Catalonia, and not just because of direct losses," the head of Spanish bullfighting lobby group Mesa del Toro, Eduardo Martin Penato, told the online edition of daily newspaper Publico.
The Catalan parliament approved the motion to outlaw bullfights in the region from January 1, 2012 with 68 votes in favour, 55 against and nine abstentions. It is the first region in mainland Spain to ban the practice.
The bullfighting sector is expected to try to claim hundreds of millions of euros to offset losses it says it will suffer as a result of the ban, a figure that has been contested by opponents.
Workers in the industry have also threatened to sue the Catalan authorities if the ban goes ahead on the grounds that it contravenes human rights legislation by denying them a means to earn a living.
A study carried out by Barcelona University economy professor Vicente Royuela for pro-bullfighting lobby group PPDF estimated that any state compensation would have to be worth between 300 and 500 million euros, or 57 euros for each Catalan.
Spanish media said sector representatives could demand 400 million euros in damages in the courts to compensate for damages caused by the ban and the losses this decision will cause hotels, restaurants and other establishments.
"That is enough to build six hospitals, 100 schools or fight against unemployment," a lawmaker in the regional Catalan parliament with the conservative Popular Party, Rafael Luna, told daily newspaper El Mundo.
The authorities in Barcelona must now decide what to do with La Monumental, the city's only remaining bullring, as well as all other bullrings in the region which will become obsolete once the ban tacks effect on January 1, 2012.
Another study estimates the regional government of Catalonia will have to pay between 50 and 150 million euros to buy the bullrings.
Top Spanish matador El Juli said the ban "would cause big losses for an important economic sector, which provides a livelihood for many families."
The bullfighting sector directly employs about 40,000 people in Spain, according to sector estimates.
Internatonal accounting network BDO estimates that bullfighting generates about 2.5 billion euros a year for the Spanish economy and drew 14 million spectators last year.
But according to left-leaning newspaper El Pais, only about 900 major bullfights were staged across Spain last year, 350 fewer than in 2008.
The drop in the number of bullfights in Catalonia has been especially sharp. Only 16 major bullfights were held in the region in 2007 compared to 31 in 2001, according to the pro-bullfighting lobby group PPDF.
Animal rights activists campaigning under the platform "Prou!", or "Enough!" in the Catalan language, had collected 180,000 signatures on a petition calling for the assembly to decide on the ban.
© 2010 AFP