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The popularity of bullfights in Spain is past its peak. Nowadays, protests against the event are on the increase; fewer people purchase tickets for the bullfights and more and more arenas have closed down due to financial problems. To prevent the tradition from dying out, Spain’s conservative government wants to protect the controversial spectacle by law. The Conservatives plan to declare bullfighting a “National Heritage”.
The legislative initiative that was introduced in Spanish Congress claims that bullfighting is part of the culture and heritage of all Spaniards. Furthermore the fights or “Corridas”, as they are called in Spanish, also have economical significance as the bullfighting industry creates thousands of jobs. In Spain there are more than 1,000 farms, where bulls are trained for more than 3 years to prepare the animals for the fight. These farms employ approximately 70,000 people in total. The sector has a yearly turnover of 1.5 Billion Euros. Each fight is made up of 6 bulls which can cost up to 150,000 Euros. The largest bullfighting arena in Madrid employs 400 people and pays 5 million Euros of concession fees to the city each year.
The supporters of bullfighting managed to collect 600,000 signatures (including that of Spain’s conservative Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy). He fulfilled the promise he made before he rose to power: “to do everything possible” to protect bullfights throughout Spain. As one of his first acts in office, Rajoy authorized bullfights to be broadcasted on live television.
However, only a minority of the Spanish population, mostly the elderly, show interest in the bloody spectacle. Sold-out arenas are not as common as they were in the old days and the amount of “corridas” has been reduced to prevent a financial disaster. In the past five years, the number of bullfighting events in Spain halved to about 1,200 per year. Formerly, every village festival included a fight.
Today, more and more people protest against the bloody tradition. “These performances are contrary to fundamental values of the 21st century, including the respect for life." says Juantxo Uralde Lopez, the spokesman for the Spanish environmental party, Equo. Catalonia, the north eastern region of Spain banned bullfights in 2012. In the Canary Islands, the spectacle was banned more than 20 years ago.
If the new national law for the protection of bullfighting is passed, the previous bullfighting ban of Catalonia and the Canary islands would be revoked. It seems very likely that the law will go through since the Conservatives have the absolute majority of seats in the parliament.