The yes to bull versus no to bullfight debate is escalating in Spain. Last Minute EUROPE, CURRENT, Spain, TOURISM headlines and events

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Bullfighting in Spain today – is it “culture or cruelty?” He looks for ways to find a new direction between his discussions.

Bullfights, which originated exclusively in Spain and have developed into a cultural event with the public as spectators since the 13th century, have been discussed nationally, especially in recent years, thanks to the initiatives of animal and animal lovers associations. human rights political party PACMA.

It is known that one of the main goals of PACMA, which is expected to send its representatives to parliament for the first time in its history in the general elections to be held in the country at the end of next year, is to ban bullfighting. .

Animal-loving organizations that describe bullfighting as ‘violent’ and stage demonstrations to ban it find representatives of a €4.5 billion annual economy sector and politicians who argue that bullfighting should continue as a cultural event .

Among the 17 autonomous governments of the country, bullfighting is banned only in Catalonia, the Canary and Balearic Islands, while bullfighting is recognized as a “cultural value” in some regions, such as Madrid, Murcia, Castile-la-Mancha.

Bullfights, which are supported by political right-wing parties, were declared Spain’s “cultural heritage” by a Senate decision in 2013.

The giant metal figure of a bull, which began as an advertisement for the company in Spain in 1956 and was placed at the entrances to cities on motorways, is still preserved as a symbol of the country with state support, with the exception of separatist Catalonia. and Basque regions.

The fact that the figure of the bull is printed on residence and work cards issued to foreigners in the country is an important example in terms of understanding how the Spanish state identifies itself with bull culture.

More than 800 bullfights are held in Spain each year, and government subsidies for bullfighting are reported to be €500 million per year.

5 million people watch bullfighting in Spain every year

Chapu Apaolaza, a spokesman for the Taurus de Lidia (Fighting Bull) Foundation, which was set up in 2015 to protect bull and bullfighting breeders, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that their goal is simply “to ensure that bullfighting is not recognized as an animal.” murderous activities and to protect the freedom of those involved in bullfighting.”

Emphasizing that there was a boom in bullfighting and a “golden age” in Spain, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, Apaolasa said:

“Due to the economic crisis that began in the 2010s, and finally the epidemic, the number of spectators for bullfights has decreased. In fact, this is an important cultural and economic event, and he manages to survive, despite all attempts to counteract. the cinema, which gathers about 5 million spectators a year, is the largest cultural event in Spain.

If bullfighting stops, there will be no more bull breeding in Spain. It is impossible to protect bulls as animals that only need to be endangered. People see the bull only in the zoo. The abolition of bullfighting means “erasing culture”. This means the disappearance of novels, poems and paintings that inspired Spanish culture. It is wrong to consider bullfighting as “animal killing”. Every year, 700 million animals are killed in Spain, not counting fish.

“The bull is a symbol of many things in Spain”

Apaolasa said that the income from bullfighting and festivals is approximately 1.5 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product and that 60,000 families lived on bread from bull breeding.

Apaolasa said that the number of people watching bullfights reached 1 million this year at the famous Las Ventas arena in Madrid, and that the number of bullfights organized in Spain in 2022 increased by 16 percent compared to 2019 (to pandemic Covid-19). flash).

“Some in Spain are ashamed of their culture, their country, but there is another part. According to the Ministry of Culture, 50 percent of Spaniards feel more or less connected to bull culture. a symbol of many things in Spain. Freedom and lack of censorship – lovers of bulls. This should apply to you too.”

“Foreigners are perhaps more biased towards bullfighting than Spaniards.” Apaolasa said, adding that the number of foreign tourists visiting the arenas is increasing every year, with Asians showing particular interest.

“Bull breeding is our way of life”

About 50 kilometers north of Madrid, Fernando Guzmán, a member of a family that has been breeding bulls for 4 generations, said: “This is not a profitable business. We do this because it is our family tradition, our passion. operating bull farms in Spain, and only 10-12 of them can profit from this business. said.

Explaining that each of the bulls selected for the fight was raised in a completely natural and ecological environment on an area of ​​​​2 hectares, Guzmán said that aggression was in the character of the bull from its very birth.

“In Spain, more than 500,000 hectares of rural areas are reserved for bulls. Every year we get all sorts of offers from the tourism sector: “Let’s make a golf course here”, but bull breeding is our way of life. My grandfather did this business until my father died. I will do this until I die. All we want is respect for us.”

“This is not a bullfight that needs to be abolished, this is a way of life”

Francisco de Manuel, who started bullfighting about 11 years ago and recently became a matador, said: “I have a private life like everyone else, but when I stand in front of a bull in an arena in front of thousands of people, I feel much more special and alive.” . said.

Talking about how a well-known matador in Spain earned up to 150 thousand euros for a bullfight (in modern Spain it is known that the most famous matador José Tomas earns up to 1 million euros for a bullfight), Manuel said that making money is important, but that culture bullfighting does not allow this. He emphasized that he was always on top.

Manuel stated that he never felt uncomfortable with bullfighting opponents and that he knew they put on a show that was difficult to watch.

“I respect those who do not like bullfighting, but they should allow us to live our lives, engage in professional activities in complete freedom. This is ignorantly said. They need to know that the future of the animal species is protected, that too many people are making a living from this industry. What they want to destroy is actually a way of life, not bullfighting. They do not understand”.

“Thousands of animals are killed every year in the cruelest ways”

PACMA, which has held demonstrations in various places in Spain, especially in the Las Ventas arena in Madrid, for the abolition of bullfights, said: “Every year, thousands of animals are killed in bullfights throughout Spain in the most brutal way. bullfighting by the majority of society, the administration continues to subsidize it with public money, and all political parties except PACMA continue to take sides and support the ban.” makes a statement.

PACMA claims that around 11,000 bulls are slaughtered in arenas in Spain each year.

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