Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bogotá's Final Bullfighting Season?

Anti-bullfighting protesters march in Bogotá last Sunday.
Workers preparing the plaza for bullfighting recently.
Bogotá's sometimes-annual bullfighting season started last weekend. But, no matter how many ears and tales the fighters are awarded and how many bulls they kill, the real story story is the fate of bullfighting in Bogotá and the rest of Colombia.

Bullfighting has been under siege here since Mayor Gustavo Petro managed to block the activity
during most of his mayoralty. However, a 2016 court ruling obligated the city to allow the fights because they are a tradition here, even tho current Mayor Enrique Peñalosa (perhaps after having observed that the anti-bullfighting crowds are far larger and more motivated than are the bullfighting fans), says he wants to ban bullfighting as well. It also seems as tho bullfighting is getting aged out, since today's young people have other interests, such as videos, football and Pokemon Go.

Men buying tickets to a bullfights. Bullfighting reportedly is
losing popularity, and its fans are aging.
City officials have talked about holding a referendum to let Bogotanos vote on whether or not they want bullfighting to continue, but it's not clear what legal weight such a vote would carry. A senator has also introduced legislation to ban bullfighting nationally. Yet, while only a tiny minority of people seem to like this blood sport, they tend to be economically and politically powerful, giving them a good shot at blocking any anti-bullfighting laws.

A billboard advertises
Bogotá's 2018
bullfighting season.
No matter that the bulls live good lives before they are brought to the Plaza de Toros, where the fight lasts only a quarter of an hour. And no matter that much, much worse practices, such as cockfighting and industrial farming, which affect many more animals, are ignored by protesters: It still is a fact that killing an animal for sport and
entertainment is a cruel spectacle which harkens back to centuries ago.

But if bullfighting ends, will the historic, Moorish-influenced stadium find another life? The panels the city put on its front call it the 'Plaza of a Thousand Uses,' but it receives almost no use at all outside of bullfighting season and a few tourist visits. A rare exception this year was the Davis
Cup Tennis Tournament, held in the stadium. (Colombia lost Croacia.)

Bicycle tourists outside the bullfighting stadium.
A sport with a future? Advertising a bullfighting school.

A rare alternative use for the stadium: An art festivale.

Women's volleyball in the bullfighting plaza.

Big time wrestling inside the bullfighting plaza.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours 

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