Spain's bullfighters hail cultural recognition
Spain's bullfighters said Wednesday the government had agreed to their request for the centuries-old tradition to be managed by the ministry of culture.
A group of leading bullfighters who have been calling for such a move away from the interior ministry met during the day with Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.
"He told us that the transfer is going to take place" to the ministry of culture, Cayetano Rivera Ordonez, one of Spain's most popular matadors, told a news conference.
The move "will be very helpful" for bullfighting, said another matador, Jose Maria Manzanares.
"We feel we are artists and we believe that in (the ministry of) culture there will be more support" for the tradition, he said.
The decision comes amid intense debate in Spain over bullfighting, which animal rights activists condemn as a form of torture but which proponents see as part of the country's cultural heritage.
The northeastern region of Catalonia in July became the first part of mainland Spain to ban the tradition. The decision was the result of a petition signed by 180,000 people calling for the ban.
In the Madrid region, which has a strong bullfighting tradition, animal rights activists have collected more than 50,000 signatures on a similar petition.
Spain's Senate last week rejected a motion presented by the conservative opposition Popular Party that would have declared bullfighting as being "of cultural interest."
The motion also called for Spain to ask the UN cultural agency UNESCO to place the spectacle on its World Heritage list.
Polls show rising disinterest in bullfighting throughout Spain, especially among the young, although arenas are regularly filled to capacity for the spectacle, which ends with the death of the bull from a well-placed sword.
© 2010 AFP