Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Colombian Court Overturns Bullfighting Ban

Colombia’s high court ruled against a prohibition on bullfighting in Bogota that was in effect since 2012.

According to the Constitutional Court, the ban violated the “administrative rights and freedom of artistic expression” against the Corporacion Taurina de Bogota (CTB), which is the entity that organized bullfights at the Plaza La Santamaria ring. 

“(The court rules in favor of the) “immediate restitution of bullfights to La Santamaria…without prejudice against other recreational or cultural destinations,” read part of the decision by the tribunal.  Hence, the judges gave city officials six months to prepare the Plaza for upcoming bullfights.

It’s unknown, however, how the ruling will affect educational projects planned at the Plaza in lieu of bullfighting. The company claimed it has the right to hold bullfights there at least through the end of its contract in March of next year.

The decision has not sat well with those in favor of the bullfighting ban like Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro. 

“It’s unfortunate that there are still parts of our society entertained by death.  A fundamental right to kill is nonexistent,” tweeted the former guerilla turned mayor.

“At the end of the day, stabbing an animal for entertainment is wrong,” said Shely Bryan, campaigns director at Humane Society International.

“I think that where cruelty starts, then culture ends,” added the animal rights activist in reaction to the court’s move.

The high tribunal ruling has been welcomed with open arms by at least eight apprentice bullfighters on a hunger strike for nearly a month.  Yet they reportedly will not lift their protest due to distrust against Petro.

“Knowing the mayor’s arrogance we’re not moving” from the camp near the entrance of the Plaza even though weeks ago Petro met with the strikers in order to negotiate an end to the protest.

Last month, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals supposedly offered to retrain Bogota bullfighters in other occupations such as “funeral attendant, mortuary cosmetologist or graveyard security guard.”

Bullfighting is still practiced in other Colombian cities like Manizales and Cali as well as several Latin American countries.  But in recent years campaigns against the sport have gained traction in Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador.  In 2013, for instance, Sonora became the first the Mexican state to prohibit bullfights though the proposal did not ban cockfighting.

Online Sources – Twitter; RCN Radio; Newsweel; Latin America News Dispatch; GlobalPost; Notcias Caracol;

Video Source – EFE via YouTube (Bullfighting at the Plaza La Santamaria in 2011).

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