Spain, France and Portugal join forces to promote bullfighting
In defence of what many perceive to be indefensible, associations in Spain, France and Portugal have joined forces to promote the culture and practice of bullfighting.
The Bull Foundation of Lydia (Spain), the Observatoire National des Cultures Taurines (France) and ProToiro (Portugal) have agreed a tripartite cooperation, signed on June 18th by the presidents of the three organizations: Victorino Martin (FTL), André Viard (ONCT) and Paulo Carvalho (ProToiro).
This new grouping is called the International Council of Bullfighting (ILC) which will incorporate all the laws, treaties and conventions, nationally and internationally, that protect the tradition of bullfighting and its cultural environment.
The International Council aims to work internationally to establish cooperation on all issues related to the practice, development, defence and promotion of bullfighting. To help in those countries that have not recognised, under the terms of the 2003 UNESCO Convention, that festivals and bullfighting traditions are intangible cultural heritage.
The International Council wants to inform institutional and those involved in bullfighting of its cultural, economic, social and educational values.
Politics and media are not left out as the Council will inform these of the reality and importance of bullfighting and its cultural place in the three founding countries and will provide information to international bodies, such as the European Parliament and the UN, on the cultural, economic, social and artistic richness of bullfighting.
The Associated Press reported in 2016 that, “at least 17 Spanish cities and towns have cut municipal funding for bullfights and bull runs, or passed legislation condemning or banning it since the new leftist party Podemos won its first seats in local and regional elections a year ago.”
Spain’s Catalonia region banned bullfighting altogether in 2011 and a decreasing number of Spaniards support the practice.
“An Ipsos Mori poll from January 2016, carried out for animal welfare organisation World Animal Protection, found that only 19% of adults in Spain supported bullfighting, while 58% opposed it,” Reuters reported.
Spain, Portugal, southern France, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and the Philippines all have bullfighting as a traditional spectacle.
There are also other places in the world, which have non-lethal versions of bullfighting, and places where bulls fight other bulls, rather than people, such as the Persian Gulf, Bangladesh, Peru, Balkans, Turkey, Japan, and Korea.
Arguments for Bullfighting
Bullfighting is an art form, and should be seen as an equivalent to dance, or painting, or music.
It is a traditional in many areas and in places like Spain, it probably goes right back to at least the Roman period. It is living history.
Bullfighters are skilful and behind all the pomp and ritual, the bull is actually being killed in a very efficient manner.
Far more bulls are killed to be eaten by abattoirs than die in the bullring. There are many abattoirs who operate in a less than effective manner. The focus on banning bullfighting as being particularly cruel is misplaced.
In some places, parts of Spain especially, bullfighting is perceived by many people as being an integral part of the regional culture.
Critics sometimes argue that bullfighting is wrong because it is killing for fun, rather than out of the necessity of killing to eat. This should be seen as more of an argument for full vegetarianism, rather than an anti-bullfighting one, however – as every time someone chooses a steak over a salad, or a beef burger over a cheese sandwich, you could argue that they are endorsing killing for “fun.”
Arguments Against Bullfighting
The practice is barbaric. Essentially, bullfighting is ritually slaughtering an animal purely for fun.
It is archaic, rather than “traditional”. We no longer allow gladiatorial contests, so why should we allow bullfighting?
It is not just the bulls who suffer, horses are also injured and suffer death (not to mention the bullfighters themselves, who can be maimed or killed as well).
The death of the bull is extended and painful, making it unnecessarily cruel. The argument that the bullfighter kills the bull efficiently is clearly questionable, if anything, the customs of the spectacle demand that the animal’s death is drawn out, rather than quick.
People who are for bullfighting play down the amount of bulls killed, but figures gathered by animal rights groups suggest that 2,500 bulls are killed in Portugal each year and in Spain the figure is closer to 30,000.