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Spain and the Bullfighting Dilemma

Many nations consistently struggle with the integration of traditional values into modern society. In the Netherlands, the ban on weed-selling coffeeshops has for a few years been wavering on the precipice of enforcement – statutes adopted a few years ago to effectively ban the sale of marijuana to visitors was adopted and even implemented in the south of the country before being struck down by the top courts. In Ireland, the laws of the nation have had issues accommodate the Catholic heritage of the nation with the modern worldviews of its citizens. In Spain, the struggle between the traditional and modern comes to crux on the issue of bullfighting.

Bullfighting poster

Two years ago, the anti-bullfighting movement gained Catalonia as mascot when that region became the first in Spain to ban bullfighting once and for all. Over 180,000 people signed a petition to ban bullfighting, and the ban came into force on January 1st 2011. However, bullfighting in Catalonia did not surrender quietly. The last ever bullfight in Catalonia was attended by 20,000 people after tickets sold out at record speed. Tickets were trading on the black market for five times their original price. Evidently, many fans were very much sorry to see the sport disappear from their region. Nevertheless, crowds of this size have long been a rarity at the bullfighting ring.

In fact, by 2013 attendances had fallen over 40% over just five years. In 2008, there were 3,295 corridas held across Spain; this year, there will be less than 500. With unemployment in Spain being 26%, many corrida-goers just aren’t into spending 50 euro on attending a bullfight. Many Spanish bullfighters have left Spain to search for greener pastures in Latin American countries like Peru. On top of this, anti-bullfighting organizations have continued to gain support among the population.

Nevertheless, the Spanish Congress voted on October 3rd to protect bullfighting by granting it cultural heritage status in spite of the fact that bullfighting continues to be largely condemned by international animal protection agencies. On the whole, the Spanish public is not supportive of measures used to protect bullfighting – three quarters of the Spanish population oppose their taxes being used to support bullfighting. For now, however, it looks like the show will go on.