The bullfights have ended in Plaza México. In the world’s largest bullfighting, located in Mexico City, there will be no more shows. Federal Judge, Jonathan Bass, has granted the definitive suspension this Friday after an injunction promoted by the Just Justice civil association that considers that the “degrading” treatment of bulls violates the right to a healthy environment.
The company Tauro Plaza México, which operates the arena, and the Government of Mexico City have 10 business days to challenge the decision before a collegiate court. While the judicial process lasts —which can last for months—, activities are paralyzed.
In an unambiguous resolution, Bass outlines a decision “that benefits all of society.” “The granting of the definitive suspension would not violate public order or affect the social interest but, on the contrary, would allow the authorities to exercise their legal powers to avoid the violation of the right to a healthy environment that causes unjustified death, cruel treatment and unnecessary suffering of the fighting bulls”, reads the document, which adds: “Under this logic, far from constituting an affectation to society, it would generate a benefit not only for the parties to the present trial but for all people who live in Mexico City and its adjacent environment regardless of the ideological position they profess about bullfighting activities.
In a sentence of more than fifty pages, the federal judge breaks down the bullfighting language and details one by one the emotional and physical damage that bulls experience during bullfights. It is based on a document from the PAOT, the animal protection body of the Government of Mexico City, and on a federal court ruling that describes “excessive and agonizing pain that culminates in death from severe hemorrhaging or respiratory arrest.”
After proving that it is “a recreational activity in which an animal is injured, tortured and finally killed”, Bass resolves: “Society is interested in respecting the physical and emotional integrity of all animals because they are living beings that make up ecosystems and, therefore, contribute with environmental services that are essential for human beings”. He also names the “intrinsic value that all animals have as sentient beings, including without exception the fighting bulls” that is protected in the Constitution of Mexico City.
Judge Bass grants this suspension as a precautionary measure within the amparo trial process of the Just Justice association. This organization, specialized in the defense of human rights, has challenged the Bullfighting Regulations and the Law for the Celebration of Public Shows in Mexico City, considering them unconstitutional.
“This legislation is from 1995 and reviewing it in the light of now, there is no concordance with the protection of human rights that we have reached,” explains Fair Justice associate attorney Denise Tron. The point of Fair Justice is that cruel treatment of animals prevents people from enjoying a healthy environment – a right protected in article 4 of the Constitution. This idea is aligned with the latest positions of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN),
The manager of Plaza México, Mario Zulaica, emphasizes that this suspension will only be in force for the duration of the trial, so “it is not so far away that this situation will be revoked.” “The bullfights are not declared unconstitutional, but rather they are recognized by the constitution,” says Zulaica, who rejects the judge’s argument that bullfights damage the environment. “The brave bull lives and is bred for bullfighting, it would become extinct if it had no other use, then the ecosystem would suffer damage,” he said.
It’s been two weeks since the “suspended” sign was placed in the windows of Plaza México. On May 27, Bass, the first administrative district judge, granted the provisional suspension of the bullfights. After the provisional suspension, both Tauro Plaza México and the Government of Mexico City filed an appeal. However, it was rejected by a federal court on Wednesday. Two of the three magistrates of the Twenty-Second Collegiate Court in Administrative Matters, of Mexico City, considered the suspension of May 27 correct because “the right to a healthy environment was privileged.” The dissenting vote pointed out that the link between bullfighting and this constitutional right or the preservation of ecosystems is not clear. This Friday’s resolution by Judge Bass finishes decanting the decision.
This ban only affects Plaza México in the capital, but it opens the door for other associations in other parts of the country to use it as jurisprudence. In Sonora, Guerrero, and Coahuila they were also canceled. “It is going to generate a domino effect and it is going to force all the parties that have to do it to think about it, to think about whether the runs can be carried out in the terms in which they were done until now,” Tron considers. Mexico is one of the few countries, along with Spain or Colombia, that fervently maintains the bullfighting tradition. In seven states (Aguascalientes, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro, Zacatecas, Michoacán and Guanajuato) it has been declared a cultural and material asset.
The capital’s arena, called La Monumental, has a capacity of 50,000 people. The political initiatives of recent months to try to stop the show have been joined by the decline in attendance, to which the coronavirus gave the finishing touch. Fewer and fewer events and fewer people. Bullfighting leader Pedro Haces, head of the Mexican bullfighting association, declared in January that a ban on bullfighting in Mexico City would cause a loss of 30,000 jobs.
At the moment, there are no tickets for sale for any of the upcoming events, neither for the bullfight on July 2 nor for the strong season, with two bullfights and three bullfights, in September and October. “We have to be responsible and abide by the suspension of the scheduled festivities, but we are going to see what progress we have, see if the judiciary can support us to shorten the times,” explains the manager of the square, “while we will try to be revoking the suspension”.
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