Could bullfighting be returning to Catalonia?

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Jessica Jones - [email protected]
Could bullfighting be returning to Catalonia?
Spanish matador David Fandila stares down a bull. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Spain’s ruling Popular Party is pushing a law which would classify bullfighting as part of Spain’s cultural heritage and could herald its return to Catalonia, where it is currently banned.


Catalonia held its last bullfight in 2011, but a new law proposed by Spain’s ruling Popular Party (PP) giving bullfighting more protection could see its return to the northeastern Spanish region.

The 'Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage' law has already been approved by the cultural commission of Spain’s lower parliament, and has been sent to the senate for further processing.

The law, which would give protection to various aspects of Spanish culture, would designate bullfighting as part of Spain’s cultural heritage, allowing the government to take “measures to safeguard” the activity.

It has faced fierce criticism and has been approved only by the PP, with the socialist opposition party PSOE abstaining and Spain’s smaller parties voting against the law.

Catalan daily La Vanguardia reported that there is strong concern among opposition politicians that the law could see the return of bullfighting to Catalonia, based on the argument that bullfighting is a cultural asset to be preserved throughout Spain. Catalonia voted to ban bullfighting in 2010.

"No one would welcome bullfighting if it was brought back to Catalonia," Silvia Barquero, president of Pacma, an animal rights party in Spain, told The Local.

"Catalonia has always been one step ahead of the rest of Spain when it comes to animal rights, for example they have banned animals in circuses, which is allowed in most of the rest of the country," she added.

Barquero, whose party has fiercely campaigned against bullfighting, sees the proposed law as a political struggle.

"This is a political fight between the Spanish government and Catalan society," she said. 

"The PP is always promoting bullfighting as part of our culture, but the majority of Catalonians are against it," she added.

The law describes cultural heritage as "the uses, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities, groups and individuals recognize as an integral part of their cultural heritage".

Particular examples include languages, theatre, festivals, crafts, music and culinary specialties.

Bullfighting has also been banned in the Canary Islands since 1991, but the islands recently came under fire after cock fighting, popular in the Canaries, escaped an animal cruelty ban. 

Queen of pop Madonna was recently criticized by animal rights groups for "glamourizing gore" by dressing as a bullfighter in appearances to promote her latest album.


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