The Gonzo Diplomat

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Bullfighting and Correbous: Hypocrisy in Catalonia

In Rant on October 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm

This Post was originally posted in my other blog, The Gonzo Diplomat.


When I was a child I remember my father having a framed picture of a bull in a ring. The colours were bold, sharp reds and yellows and the bull was in full movement ready to attack.  During the summertime, my great aunt would also spend hours sat in front of the television watching bullfights while fanning her face with the grace that only elders can muster. My impression upon watching the spectacle was that of sheer disapproval, as anybody who has grown up loving animals would feel. 

Years later I read Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and observed the profound respect the author had for bullfighters and for the so called sport. “Bullfighting”, he said, “is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter´s honour”. I seemed to understand his point, I recall, but I didn´t share his admiration. 

In the city of Alicante I refused to enter the bullfighting rings and despite having made friends, particularly in Valencia, who were very fond of the sport and who went to watch the spectacle during the Fallas feasts in March, I was determined to stick to my morals. 

From conversing with these friends I have learned to respect the cultural significance of bullfighting and those who love it, but I have been unable to find the pleasure or understanding of the sport and the senseless killing of an animal. Regardless of this, the spectacle has something that appeals to many, even those who do not appear to bear the typical fanaticism of many Spaniards. Maybe it is the fact that the bull still has a chance, that everone and everything dies sooner or later, and that the beast will make sure that its life is not taken easily and is willing to fight for it. Perhaps it is for that reason too that I find it perfectly fine when I see a bullfighter leaping with a horn up his bum, the price they have to pay for sticking spikes in animals and stylishly turning to the sounds of olé

However, the banning of Bullfighting in Catalonia, which held its last event ten days ago, where José Tomás and Serafín Marín fought in Barcelona’s main arena, La Monumental, seemed to be a great win for animal lovers and those tired of being associated with the bloodthirsty sport. Maybe the fanaticism is beginning to halt, I pondered, even though it may bear the price of sacrificing some cultural heritage. 

Then I heard that the beloved feast, the Correbous, would not be illegalised, as it was symbolic for Catalonia and as Andrés Martínez, the Security Administrator for Catalonia, argued, “the animals are not tortured”.


Correbous, a game where bulls chill out and play:

The correbous is a festive activity, in which a bull has balls of fire attached to its horns and is set in the streets panicking. Associations like the FAACE (Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe) have asserted that during these festivals, the bull can suffer a lot of distress and is often blinded by the flames or branded by the metal bars. 

There are a few things I detest more than bullfighting , one of them being the ignorant village folk who scream and shout and shake with excitement when there is a bull running down a street, in a blind frenzy and unable even to get his revenge and make those imbeciles teasing it pay for their arrogance. 

When in 2010, Joseph Rull, a spokesman for the centre-right nationalist coalition called Convergence and Union, stated that the ban on bullfighting was not an anti-Spanish manifestation, but a decision to adapt to a new society with new values, it all seemed pretty well said, even more so when he manifested that “the suffering and death of a living being cannot be turned into a public spectacle.”


It seems therefore, that either the suffering of an animal cannot be turned into a public spectacle if the beast dies in the act, but if it is just suffering and torture, then there is no problem whatsoever. 

Or maybe, just maybe, there are some political connotations to this ban, and in the end, the Catalonian government has done yet another thing I detest more than bullfighting, be hypocritical. 

If anything, Catalonia have always shown an ethical and highly moral behavior, and whilst there are rightfully demanding rights with regards to their culture and more importantly, their language, which is often mocked by Spanish centralists as being a mere dialect, the legalisation of the correbous has done little to their favour. 

In these modern times with, as Rull stated, new values, there should be no excuses for the correbous.  The Catalans, who have shown at times that they can be different to the Spaniards, can no longer blame Spanish uncultured habits for supporting a show where such little compassion is reflected.  When you see them running behind a tormented young bull, in a drunk stupor and thuggishly pulling its tail and throwing objects at it, there is no beauty, no art, no dignity or value, just cowardly retrograded traditions. And for every attempt to be separated from a Spanish country accustomed to animal brutality, where in a small town called Nalda, they used to tie chickens to a rope and try to decapitate them on horses, the Spain where, until the year 2000,  a goat used to be thrown every year from a church tower in Manganeses de la Polvorosa, Zamora, and dogs are usually treated like vermin, this event does little to show them as different to the culture they so often refute.