Mexico City has opened the door to the prohibition of bullfighting. The Animal Welfare Commission of the local Congress has approved this Tuesday an initiative that proposes to end the bullfighting festival. One week before the Monumental Plaza México lives 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 shows, however, the measure must still obtain a majority in the plenary session for its final approval .
The prohibition of bullfighting was proposed since 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, Explain. Only five opposition deputies attended this Tuesday’s session, who voted in favor of advancing the initiative to the plenary session. No legislator from Morena 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 million 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 Asociación de Ganaderos del Toro de Lidia in Mexico.
In the surroundings of Plaza México, calm reigns. It is Tuesday and there will be no show until the weekend. The season began at the end of October and a cycle of six celebrations will be organized with two bullfights, three bullfights and one rejoneo. Antonio, an employee of a taqueria attached to the 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. Antonio says that the public that goes to the bulls “shows that it is more expensive compared to those who go to football” because of how they dress and “for the cars they drive.” The taquero says that from time to time he also goes to see the show, the entrance that he pays 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 that way the problem will be solved ”, he says.
“What worries me is that there are deputies who speak out in favor of animal welfare, but at the time of voting there are certain factors that prevent legislators from exercising their vote with that will and transparency,” Sesma warns. His criticism of Sesma is directed at Morena, whose representatives on the commission chose to abstain from Monday’s session, despite other party members saying they support the initiative. “I find it unfortunate that Morena’s colleagues have not accompanied us after years of profiting from this cause,” said deputy Ana Villagrán, from Acción Nacional. The ruling party has 32 of 66 seats and is the largest parliamentary group.
During the day several organizations and groups in defense of animals have accompanied the discussion. “We applaud the decision and the work of the Bancada Animalista to end the suffering of all animals, including bulls,” said Antonio Franyuti, director of Animal Heroes. The discussion promises a tense debate in the capital’s Congress. The deputies who promote the law say they are “34 against 32” for it to pass.
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 the brave festival but to discourage it through an agreement that prevents violence against the animal.
In Mexico this is the third attempt to end bullfights 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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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.