Mexico City on the verge of banning bullfighting

Mexico City has opened the door to the prohibition of bullfighting. The Animal Welfare Commission of the local Congress has approved an initiative that proposes to end bullfighting.

A week after the Monumental Plaza México holds its big party, on December 12, the bullfight of the Guadalupana this year could be the last if the initiative goes ahead. The reform to the animal protection law includes fines of up to 4.9 million pesos, about $ 230,000, to those who organize this type of show, however, the measure must still obtain a majority in the plenary session for its final approval.

The prohibition of bullfighting was proposed at the beginning of last September with “the aim of establishing a ban on holding public shows in which animals are subjected to acts of mistreatment and cruelty that result in their death.” The initiative was presented by deputies from six of the seven parties that have representation in the Congress of Mexico City: Morena, formation in the Government; the Party of the Democratic Revolution; the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico; the Institutional Revolutionary Party; the National Action Party, and the Citizen Movement. Only the Labor Party did not join.

“This show is based on torture, pain, and cruelty towards the bull, as well as contempt for animal rights,” the proposal reads. At first, the social communication unit of Congress had announced that the opinion had been approved since Monday. Only five of the nine deputies of the commission were present at that session, four legislators voted in favor and there was one abstention. Within the legislative body, there were differences in the legal interpretation of the majority necessary to approve the initiative, and the president of the commission, Jesús Sesma, of the Green Party, chose to call a new session a day later instead of initiating a legal dispute. Only five opposition deputies attended this Tuesday’s session, who voted in favor of the initiative moving towards the plenary session. No Morena legislator appeared on the commission.

“It is a watershed,” says Sesma, “implies a change for the city and for the whole of Mexico.” The deputy assures that the biggest obstacle that the initiative faces before becoming law is the “business, economic and political pressures” of the sectors that oppose the prohibition. The Monumental Plaza de Toros México is the largest plaza in the world, with a capacity of more than 41,000 attendees. “The industry around the bull generates a spill of 6.900 billion pesos a year, generates 80,000 direct jobs, 146,000 indirect and 800 million pesos in terms of taxes,” says Jorge Cárdenas, president of the National Association of Breeders of the Bull of Lidia in Mexico.

Antonio, an employee of a taqueria attached to the Monumental plaza, affirms that the prohibition of bullfights does not threaten his business, but it would take away “an extra income during the two great bull seasons.” La Monumental is also used for concerts and some sporting events, such as the show that Roger Federer offered in 2019. The taquero says that from time to time he also goes to see the show, the entrance fee that you pay costs around 400 pesos. “They shouldn’t take away the taste of people who go to the bullfights, but maybe it would be nice if they didn’t kill the animal. Maybe this is how the problem will be solved,” he says.

The Mexican Bullfighting organization, which groups together matadors, ranchers, businessmen, and fans, denounces not having been summoned to this discussion “we were not invited although our sector is the most affected”, protests the bullfighter José Saborit, director of the organization. “The activists want to impose laws with lies. We are in favor of animal welfare in the sense that the bull is an animal that in life is better cared for than anyone for human consumption”, he adds.

During the day, several organizations and groups in defense of animals have accompanied the discussion. “Most of the citizens reject bullfights. Politicians have to listen to the public,” insists Franyuti.

The Mexican capital follows in the footsteps of another great city in Latin America engulfed in the ban debate: Bogotá (Colombia). In the Colombian case, after the closure of the Plaza Santamaría in 2012, the bullfights returned in 2014 by order of the courts. Now the City Council has chosen not to prohibit bullfighting, but to discourage it through an agreement that prevents violence against the animal.

In Mexico, this is the third attempt to end bullfighting in the capital. Sonora, Guerrero and Coahuila already prohibit them; while they have been declared cultural and material assets in Tlaxcala, Aguascalientes, Hidalgo, Querétaro, Zacatecas, Michoacán and Guanajuato. Legislators are expected to present the initiative for discussion in plenary in the next 45 days.

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