Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bullfighting's Back?

They won. Hunger striking bullfighters in front of the Santamaria Plaza last year.
Brace yourself for the protests.

Coming soon: Anti-bullfighting protesters
march thru downtown Bogotá.
The Constitutional Court ruled today that Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro must reopen the Santamaria Bullfighting Plaza to bullfights, ending a long court battle.

A court had previously ruled that bullfighting is traditional in Bogotá, and the mayor lacked authority to ban it. He appealed, and the high court ruled against him.

For Petro, this is political disaster. Animal rights advocates have been among his most vocal backers, and this court ruling nullifies one of his few concrete accomplishments.

The Santamaria's empty arena. 
But Petro still has cards to play. It's probably too late to organize bullfights for the 2015 season, which normally runs from early January thru late February. And Petro claims that the 80-plus-year-old Santamaria Plaza needs a major renovation. The renovation project's contracting process keeps getting suspended for lack of interested companies, but expect Petro to rush it thru now to create another justification for keeping the plaza shut. The city's recreation agency has already closed the handsome plaza to tourists, for unfathomable reasons. Bullfighting advocates suspect that the real motive behind the renovation plans is to make the plaza unusable for its original purpose, bullfighting.

Setting aside bullfighting's artistic merits, or lack of them, it's always seemed to me that la fiesta brava gets picked on unfairly among the wide range of animal abuses permitted in Colombia. A few dozen bulls fight and die during a normal season in La Santamaria, but innumerable roosters suffer and die in the city's legal cockfighting pits, while nobody says a word. And, recently, I talked to a Spaniard setting up industrial pig and chicken farms here. The man told me that Colombia has no animal welfare laws. They do in Europe, he admitted "because they're crazy" there.

Evidently, Colombia's a very sane nation, since nobody lifts a finger to improve the conditions of farm animals.

Young bullfighters show their moves in front of the Santamaria Plaza.
The historic Santamaria Plaza during a pro-bullfighting demonstration.

Does anybody care? Animals packed together on industrial farms.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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