L.fought animal rights activists in the northern Spanish city of Gijón in vain for the end of the annual Begona Festival. Now the 130-year-old tradition is actually to be banned and no more bulls are to be killed in the urban bullring. Several borders have been exceeded, said Mayor Ana González. By that she did not mean the suffering of the animals, but their names. “Feminist” and “Nigerian” were the names of two of the cops who were killed in the arena – at the hand of a well-known torero who supports the right-wing populist Vox party, which advocates the corrida tradition. “A city that believes in equality between women and men, that believes in integration, cannot allow such a thing,” said the socialist politician and announced that in future the amphitheater would only be rented out for concerts and other cultural events. The controversy over the names of the bulls was just the drop that finally brought the barrel to overflow.
Since its announcement, bullfighting has been fiercely debated in Spain again. The animal welfare party Pacma spoke of “fantastic news” and called for a large demonstration in Madrid in September.
An attack on human heritage
The criticism that broke in on the mayor is even louder. The conservative Spanish People’s Party (PP) announced legal action against this “attack on the civil liberties” and accused Ana González of “ideological tutelage”. Other bullfighting advocates called the mayor “totalitarian” and compared her to the Afghan Taliban: Their ban is an attack on the cultural heritage of mankind – similar to the destruction of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan by the Afghan Islamists.
A comprehensive ban on bullfighting is legally difficult in Spain after the conservative PP declared it a national treasure in 2013. Three years later, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that only the state could decide to abolish these events. Bloody bullfights have been banned in Mallorca since 2017 – until the Constitutional Court in Madrid lifted the ban on the left regional government in 2019.