Bitácora desde América. Mirada de la prensa mundial: la política regional empujó la prohibición.
El Financial Post de Canadá indica que “el objetivo de Cataluña –y de la agenda nacionalista – es separarse políticamente de España, lo que empujó la prohibición”, y que ésta equivale o es equiparada a “prohibir los fuegos artificiales en California durante el 4 de julio, día de las independencia norteamericana”. De esta manera Cataluña está diciendo, “miren, nosotros NO somos de España, y en consecuencia debemos separarnos”.
Por su parte “El Economista” (The Economist) pregunta: “¿Y ahora qué más van a prohibir en Cataluña?” Y dice que los catalanes están menos preocupados por “los derechos de los animales” que por rechazar al toro como símbolo del concepto de “Fiesta Nacional de España” y por querer ser distintos al resto de España. Aquí hay “una revancha”, nos dice el diario, por una reciente decisión emitida por la Corte Constitucional de España de derribar parte de la autonomía de la región, la que había sido aprobada en el referéndum de hace 4 años.
La Revista Time señala que “la lucha recién empieza”. Ahora que los toros “están politizados” será el momento para proteger la Fiesta Nacional en el resto del país. Ya en la vecina Francia la Fiesta del Toreo es más popular que nunca.
Financial Post de Canadá
Seneca, the Roman playwright, cast the Iberian Peninsula as a stretched bull’s hide — la piel de toro — more than 2,000 years ago. Cave paintings discovered in Spain depict men staring down bulls. Bulls and bullfighting are icons of Spanish self-identify, and as such, are interwoven in the culture’s pageantry and sense of patrimony. Catalonia’s decision on Wednesday to ban bullfighting in 2012 is akin to Quebec banning hockey or California banning fireworks on the Fourth of July. It is part of the country’s pageantry, but it’s more than that. On the surface, banning bullfights is about animal welfare, but more than anything, it’s about politics and age-old tensions being played out in the bullfighting ring. “In this case, banning the bullfight has a lot to do with Catalonia saying, ‘Look, we are not Spanish,’ ” says Carrie Douglass, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Virginia who specializes in Spain and is married to a Spaniard from Madrid. “Because if Spain is associated with or equal to the symbol of the bull and the bullfight, and the Catalans are prohibiting it then they are saying: ‘We can’t be Spanish. And we should be separate.’ ” Originally, the Catalans were separate, a kingdom unto themselves known as Aragon, with a distinct language, governing institutions and customs that persisted long after the birth of the Kingdom of Spain in 1469. By the end of the 18th-century bullfighting, as we picture it today, was already fully developed as a commercial enterprise. It was the first form of mass entertainment in Western society. Arenas dotted the Spanish landscape. Stars were worshipped like matinee idols. Festivals would end with a bullfight, followed by a feast. People loved it, even in Catalonia, the first region in Spain to industrialize and, by the 1850s, the wealthiest “ A Catalan nationalist movement emerged in the 1850s,” says Adrian Shubert, a historian at York University in Toronto. “The Catalans saw themselves as more sophisticated, more European, more advanced economically than the rest of the country.” And the future, to the Catalans, was to be European, and being European meant no more bullfights. Bullfighting was a symbol of Spanish backwardness, of barbarity, a tradition unbecoming a progressive people. To the rest of Spain, bullfighting was the people; it was Castilian virility, artistry and bravery in the face of death. Goya celebrated it in paintings. Federico Lorca, the poet, embraced it with verse. “Perhaps little children cannot imagine the shape of Spain, but we adults know – our teachers told us so – that Spain stretches out like a bull’s hide,” he wrote. “In this geographical symbol lies the deepest, most dazzling and complex part of the Spanish character.” Lorca was executed during the Spanish Civil War, a bloody conflict that ended with the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. “Franco detested the Catalans,” Mr. Shubert says. “He saw them as separatists and a threat to the unity of the Fatherland.” Under Franco, the Catalan language was banned in public, and banished from media. Nationalism went underground, and wouldn’t emerge again until after the general’s death in 1975. Almost four decades later, a new civil war is being waged in Spain, and the first casualty is bullfighting. The debate that ended the blood sport played out in Catalonia’s legislature for several months. Biologists, veterinarians, philosophers, writers — bullfighters — all were invited to address the politicians before the crucial ballot was cast. And when the votes were tallied, bullfighting, and the Spain behind it, was defeated 68-55. “Can you have a fiesta in Spain that claims antiquity — a patron saint festival — without a bullfight?” Ms. Douglass wonders. “In Spain, you can hate the bulls. But your fiesta — like the Fourth of July — is more than just corn on the cob and a band and some watermelon.” There has to be fireworks and a rocket’s red glare. Being opposed to the bullfight is like being a supporter of the National Rifle Association in the United States: it says something about a person’s politics. And to the Catalans, it says that we are the modern ones, the progressives and, most of all, that we are different. And they are different, even though the region has a rich bullfighting tradition and a reputation for producing some of the finest matadors in the land. “It is not a cruel show,” renowned Catalan bullfighter Serafín Marin said this week. “It is a show that creates art.”
On July 28th Catalonia’s regional parliament outlawed bullfighting. It is a bit like a German state banning wurst or a French region condemning those pesky berets. As is the way in fiercely independent Catalonia, the debate over bullfighting became caught up in regional politics. Many Catalans are concerned less about animal welfare than they are about rejecting the bull as a symbol of Spain and distancing Catalonia from Spaniards’ habit of referring to the corrida as the “national fiesta”. One local newspaper reported that several nationalist parliamentarians had decided to back the ban as “revenge” for a recent decision by Spain’s constitutional court to strike down parts of Catalonia’s autonomy charter, approved by Catalans in a referendum four years ago. Never mind that bullfighting, although in decline in this part of Spain, was once an important part of local culture, or that plenty of Catalans find other ways of tormenting bulls at village fiestas. Catalans are getting a taste for outlawing whatever irks them. The bar on bullfighting follows a decision by many Catalan towns and cities to ban the Islamic face-covering veil in municipal buildings. Parties are competing to come up with French-style proposals for taking burqa bans further, even though the garment is rarely seen on Catalan streets. This spasm of intolerance has been incited by campaigns for elections to the Catalan parliament, which are due in late autumn. Many Catalans are tired of the uneasy three-way coalition of socialists, greens and separatists that has governed the region since 2003. Polls predict victory for the business-friendly Convergence and Union coalition (CiU), which preaches greater autonomy for Catalonia but not independence. By providing CiU with a mandate to press for reforms at national level, the return of the nationalists may be good for Spain’s economy, but the impact on Catalonia itself is more difficult to predict. Reaffirming the region’s Catalan identity, and use of the Catalan language, will still be priorities. The politicians are worried, but at least the bulls can sleep easier.
It’s been a long time coming, but on Wednesday, Catalonia took a historic step. With 68 votes in favor and 55 against, the Catalan parliament approved a measure that will make bullfighting illegal throughout the region. The vote, which will make Catalonia the first region in mainland Spain to ban a tradition still referred to as the “national fiesta,” was the result of a popular initiative, launched by an association called Prou! (Catalan for Enough!) and first admitted to parliament in November 2008. In addition to banning the centuries-old sport (or art, depending on your perspective), it provides for the indemnification of those businesses — the bullring impresarios and seamstresses who specialize in capes — whose financial well-being will suffer from the ban. “There’s a lot of satisfaction, a lot of euphoria here,” says Prou! spokesman Eric Gallego, who was at the parliament for the vote. “Before, bulls were always an exception to Catalonia’s animal-protection laws. At last they’ll be protected by them.” Although two of the main political parties allowed their members to vote with their consciences rather than in a bloc, as they usually do, the decision broke down mostly along party lines. Both the center-right Popular Party (PP) and the Catalan Socialists largely opposed the measure, while the pro-autonomy parties Convergence I Unio, the Catalan Left and the Catalan Greens all supported it. That division has fed speculation that the ban was fueled by a nationalist agenda. The Barcelona newspaper El Periódico noted that the number of opposition votes had dropped since the last preliminary ballot on the ban, held in the parliament in December, while the nationalist component had grown, “especially after [Spain’s] Constitutional Court voted against the Estatut” — a statute whose provision defining Catalonia as a nation was ruled unconstitutional by the court in June.