Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Strange Sort of Hunger Strike

A man stands today near a sign announcing that the young bullfighters have been hunger striking for 69 days.
On March 1, 1981, in Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, Catholic Republican inmate Bobby Sands refused to eat. 66 days later, Sands died of starvation, making him likely the world's most famous hunger striker. Nine more men followed him to their deaths. The longest survivor withstood 73 days of starvation, while another man died after not eating for 46 days.

Hunger strike supporters outside of the Santamaria Plaza.
In early August, In front of Bogotá's Santamaria Bullfighting Plaza, a group of young bullfighters called novilleros started a hunger strike demanding that the plaza, be reopened to bullfighting, against the wishes of Mayor Gustavo Petro. Today, 69 days later, they're still there- and going strong. In fact, some of them plan to bullfight early next month in Choachí, a town outside of Bogotá. By then, they'll have been 'hunger striking' for about 90 days - far longer than any of the Northern Irelanders survived. That's pretty good, for a bunch of guys who by all rights should be near death.

In fact, from what I'm told, the 'hunger-strikers' are receiving nutrition via intravenous fluids.This is not meant to question the strikers' dedication - several have been hospitalized during the 'hunger strike' - after which they taking nutrition intravenously.- and at least one had to withdraw after developing stomach ulcers. hospitalized, before they started taking nutrition intravenously.

So, call what they're doing a sit-in, not a hunger strike. Give up the lie you guys, and eat an apple.

The bullfighters look likely to win their battle - altho not because of their dubious hunger strike. A court recently ruled that Mayor Petro lacked the authority to prohibit bullfighting in the historic stadium. The mayor is appealing the ruling. The mayor is also asserting that the 83-year-old stadium requires structural reinforcement. Some suspect that the problems were invented by Petro as an excuse not to allow bullfighting. But even if the work goes ahead, the city would have to provide another site for bullfights, the court said.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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