Friday, June 15, 2007

CNN reports on bullfighter José Tomás's comeback corrida in Barcelona, which has sold out the Monumental bullring, which seats 19,000. The local press is reporting that thousands of out-of-town aficionados are paying scalpers up to €600 for a seat.

This is controversial around here because Catalan nationalists consider bullfighting to be non-Catalan, a foreign import. That's not true; Barcelona has held bullfights for centuries, had three bullrings operating in the early 1900s before heavy migration from the rest of Spain, and in 1835 saw a local revolt touched off by a bullfight gone wrong. In addition, bullfighting is popular in the town of Olot and in the Catalan towns on the Ebro.

It is true, though, that bullfighting is not as popular in Catalonia as in other parts of Spain. Andalusia and Castile are the heartland of bullfighting, but it's also popular in the Basque Country, Navarre, Aragon, and Valencia. As far as I know, the only Latin American countries where bullfighting is big are Mexico, Colombia, and Peru.

One thing is that it's not considered a sport, but rather a performance. Those who appreciate it consider it an art. I am not one of them.

I've changed my position on bullfighting at least twice. At first I thought it was barbaric and repulsive. Then I began to think that, well, I don't like it but it is part of the culture and has a long history, and who am I to tell Spaniards what to do? Now I've sort of gone back to my original idea. Just because it's part of the culture doesn't make it right, but so many people like it that you really can't ban it, that would be a miscarriage of democracy. But people should damn sure stop patronizing it unless they stop killing the bulls. The Portuguese don't kill the bull. Seems to me that doing it Portuguese-style would be a reasonable compromise.

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