Un poco de historia de las corridas de toros

The Romans introduced customs and rituals that included the sacrifice of bulls. During that time, a figure called Karpóforo, using a red scarf, forced a bull to charge and knocked down a knight who was riding the bull. In addition, the matador, armed with a shield and sword, engaged in a fight between the bull and himself in the “corrida” or bullfight. According to Julio César in his Natural History, Pliny the Elder tells us that in those times, thousands of animals were killed to entertain a bloodthirsty audience, and these cruel venationes and bloody Roman games trace their origins to Spain, although bullfights are a shameful and unique spectacle.

In addition to the Greek mythology tale, the adventures of Theseus, who killed the Minotaur, and Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, are told in the frescoes depicting scenes of tauromachy in the Labyrinth, the known palace in the plaza of Cnossos. It is perhaps guided by the same insensate ignorance and myths that allows humans to be able to traffic with life and pain, turning them into real victims of our evolutionary failure, characterizing a peaceful animal as a virtual enemy or monster, who lack undeserved privileges arbitrarily.

In the early celebrations of the wedding of the infant Sancho de Estrada in Ávila, the first historical reference to a bullfight dating back to 1080 is recorded. There is a psychological connection between the bull and the bullfighter, as well as between the masculine and the feminine, due to the ritual libidinous symbolism. This connection also extends to folklore and popular festivals, as well as to the libidinal relationship between the audience and the bullfighter, and other less visible elements that reveal a wide range of unhealthy desires, traumas, and passions. Although several writers point out that El Cid Campeador, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, was the first Spanish knight to lance bulls, according to Pliny, the practice was introduced by Julius Caesar, who attacked bulls on horseback with a pike. The Moors considered this custom less dangerous than tournaments among Christians, which prepared them for battles where men killed each other in the same way. During the Middle Ages, bullfighting developed and gradually became monopolized by the nobility. Influenced by chivalry and the bad example of kings, as is the case in Spain today, the nobility sought public notoriety, the attentions of ladies, and the respect of others by harassing and lancing bulls, considered as totemic enemies with great defensive power. Although Queen Isabella the Catholic rejected bullfights, she did not prohibit them. On the other hand, Emperor Charles V distinguished himself with his fondness for bullfighting and killed a bull with one thrust in Valladolid to celebrate the birth of his son Philip II, during whose reign the first ecclesiastical condemnations were promulgated.

The complicity of power and the church with bullfighting

In 1619, Felipe III renovated and perfected the main square of Madrid, with a capacity for almost sixty thousand participants, and Felipe IV, besides spearing bulls and killing one with a musket shot in the Huerta de la Priora, fatally stabbed over four hundred wild boars. In 1596, Clement VIII canceled the condemnation that had been put into effect by Sixtus V. Gregory XIII, successor of Pius V, moderated the severity of the bull of St. Pius V, according to the desire of Philip II to lift the excommunication, threatening with excommunication those who supported them. In 1567, Pope Pius V promulgated the bull De Salutis Gregis Dominici, calling for the abolition of bullfights in all Christian kingdoms, declaring bullfighting “very displeasing to God,” and in 1565, a council in Toledo to remedy the abuses of the kingdom.

In the town square, the provision for the first bullfight with horses, which has become common in the large bullfights, is mocked and humiliated, bringing joy to the town. The document records a bullfight carried out by the Santa Brotherhood, in which twelve or six bulls are released with ropes and belts. In Seville, the bull that was causing chaos was introduced into some barrels, and the mob would claw and stab it with harpoons from the caponeras or barriers, while the peones would provoke it from the burladeros or hiding places. The bull also suffered a thousand provocations in its death and harassment, playing a predominant role in the aristocratic spectacle with a cruelty comparable to that of the roped or ensnared bulls, as well as other festivities such as the embolados bulls and fire bulls, which were practiced in squares and streets with the release of bulls and cows. This practice was already common in the south of France and Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries.

In 1754, Madrid’s Puerta de Alcalá witnessed the inauguration of the old factory plaza, which had been donated by Fernando VI to the Royal Board of Hospitals. This plaza continued to receive support from the royal family in order to establish bullfighting as a profitable business. Initially, bullfighting was seen as a form of “sporting” training, but it eventually evolved into a lucrative enterprise with the backing of the nobility. However, in the 18th century, the nobility lost interest in bullfighting on horseback due to a ban imposed by Felipe V on the so-called “festivals of the horns.” Felipe V also refused to participate in an auto de fe organized in his name at the beginning of his reign. As a result, bullfighting on foot gained prominence among the plebeian population. This new form of bullfighting introduced the novel concept of the bull’s death at the hands of the most despicable and unrefined individuals involved in the meat supply and slaughterhouses. These individuals developed their own style of bullfighting, eventually forming groups of workers known as “chulos” who were equipped with capes by the 17th century. These workers joined forces with the pitiful and ruthless horsemen (varilargueros) to provoke the bull, deceive it with sudden turns, prick it, and ultimately disable it. This was done to the exhausted bulls who managed to avoid the painful encounter with their executioners on horseback as well as the hunting dogs.

The bullfighting dictatorship is being consumed, outside the law, with the proliferation of permanent bullrings, in the style of Roman coliseums, like a cancer of reason, with the consequent perversion and vulgarization of bad habits and the loss of ethical and social values that enlightened Spaniards tried to correct, unsuccessfully, with more humane and socially appropriate legislation. From the second half of the 18th century, extensive lands are allocated for pastures, while the bullfighter achieves renown as a sword.

The enlightened humanitarian conscience and bullfighting despotism

During the regency of María Cristina, it would be closed that the Sevillian slaughterhouse, in 1834, after its closure, the first bullfighting school in 1830, creates that at the same time the kingdom, closing all the classrooms of the University, while suppressing the constitution of 1812 and its freedoms, giving support to bullfights and restoring the tribunal of the Inquisition that had been abolished in 1808 before the effective arrival of the absolutist king Ferdinand VII, although some exceptions were tolerated for beneficial purposes, the abolition of bullfights in Spain was reiterated by another royal decree of Carlos IV in 1805, which prohibited the abuse of running bulls and young bulls through the streets, not eradicating the celebration of any bull as long as it had the role of victim as well as protagonist, including bullfights granted to any other organization such as the “Council of the Lords of another Royal Provision” in 1790, and all festivities were completely prohibited, including bullfights, without exceptions, consummating the total prohibition of all celebrations in the kingdom in September 1786 by the decree of November 1785, which also prohibited them by force of the “pragmatic sanction” that contemplated the “suspension or cessation” of these in order to finance some public utility and beneficial expenses, except for those destined for exception, the promulgation of the Royal Order on March 23, which prohibited bullfights in the whole kingdom, led to the initiative of Count Aranda to civilize the customs of the country in the late 18th century.

In her poetry about the new bullrings in Spain, Carolina Coronado, a Spanish poetess, is using the passionate outcry of the majority today to increase the capacity and establish the spectacle of bullfighting circuses in opposition to the abundance of new bullrings being constructed. This desire to impose their entire spectacle and solidify their power comes in response to the legal prohibition of bullfights in the long 19th century period, during which the desire of the bullfighting mafia was to increase and establish their power.

In 1898, there was a confrontation between an elephant and a bull that took place in Madrid, resembling the ancient Roman circus style. Other animal species and dogs participate in the shows that are organized, while the complete Tauromaquia was published in 1836, regulating the slaughter of bulls within the margins of the law during the 19th century.

In the last third of the end of the century, the death of thousands of horses, horribly disemboweled, turns bullfights into true slaughterhouses that end up reducing the equine population by half. This motivates the introduction in 1928 of the peto, a protective quilt of French invention, which does not eliminate the horse’s suffering, but avoids hurting the sensitivity of the spectators who are less tolerant of blood.

The breeders manipulate the behavior and strength of the bull by adapting them for successive crossbreeding of a medium-sized and docile animal, reducing their size and manufacturing their force, in this modern bullfighting ritual.

The bullfighting arena and slaughterhouse are the own puntilla’s arsenal and this is where the estocada or sword, the pica or lance, and the negras banderillas, which replaced the fire of gunpowder cartridges, collaborate with their executioners to terrorize the docile bull. These executioners, legally homologated, must use their characteristic and size-specific weapons to torture their victims, the banderillas, for centuries. Measures are established to promote the taurine barbarism, focusing on the cultural celebration and tradition of bullfighting, which corresponds to a democratic constitutional government to classify cruelty as a crime that is far from being typified. However, Carlos Juan’s Royal Decree in Spain legalizes bullfights, which is the own party’s decision, but publicly condemns bullfighting, an undisputed figure of the Socialist Party (PSOE) since its legalization in 1881, Pablo Iglesias (1925-1850).

The Bullfighting Business Outside of Spain: A Matter of Life and Death

Portugal and France did not respect civil and ecclesiastical prohibitions, even though they contributed to the development of a different style of equally cruel spectacle, based on the torment and death of a sensitive animal, bullfighting in America.

The law proposition adopting the declaration of the previous law that was not applicable to bullfights could invoke an uninterrupted tradition, until its adoption by the Council of the Republic on April 12, 1951. Bullfights, which legally continued for a hundred years in the national territory, were prohibited during the summer of 1853 in Bayonne, where 19 horses and bulls died. The suspension of the prohibition affected a series of bullfights that were scheduled for the satisfaction of Empress Eugenia of Spain, who personally intervened to request the suspension. The introduction of bullfights with the Spanish-style death did not prevent the entry into force of the Grammont law, which prohibited bullfights on July 2, 1850 in France.

In July 1976, the French law on animal protection established penalties for animal abuse, but excluded bullfighting and cockfighting due to “an uninterrupted local tradition”. Since 1954, a bullfight was held for the first time in Carcassonne after the mayor and the high court upheld this legal loophole. In June 2002, the bullfighting mafia attempted to organize a bullfight in Paris, a city without a bullfighting tradition, and also tried to export their grotesque spectacle to countries such as Egypt and Russia, where there is no bullfighting tradition.

According to a French study conducted in 1993, it was discovered that 83% of the populace is against bullfighting, while only 11% support it.

Despite the prohibition of death-style bullfighting in 1928, the tradition of killing bulls in bullrings in cities where it is allowed continues in Spain, such as in Barrancos de Villa, bordering cities. Paradoxically, a new law will allow the killing of bulls in these cities’ arenas, where the tradition of Spanish-style death corridas has been maintained, despite the systematic non-compliance with the law for at least fifty years.

The involuntary victims or those who willingly participate in any cruel and degrading spectacle, regardless of the physical, psychological, moral, or ethical consequences, including ostrich runs in Aragon and in towns like Fuengirola, allow for the systematic abuse of animals of any species, ultimately desensitizing the public opinion towards animal suffering. However, the gratuitous torment of new animal species does not in any way justify any act based on traditions to justify the torture of bulls or false utilitarian arguments in defense.

Only abuse in the case of legally unauthorized shows is punished with a fine, in which case only Article 632 of the Spanish Penal Code is applied, which is completely ineffective in preventing cases of animal cruelty. At the European and international levels, we must unequivocally condemn the torture of any living being and improve the status of animals in Spain and other countries such as Portugal, France, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. We should also strive to move towards a more humane approach like Germany, Italy, or the United Kingdom in the European Union, in order to build a society based on respect for life and others, and to address violence against animals of any species.