Colombian government to put draft bill to ban bullfighting before Congress

Leading matador Luis Bolívar receives death threats on Twitter after blood sport returns to capital

Colombia’s Interior Minister, Juan Fernando Cristo, says a draft bill will be presented to Congress on March 20 that aims to ban bullfighting. “At a time of peace and harmony society needs to take a decision about bullfighting. That said, this is an invitation to do so in a respectful way,” he explained.

There were violent scenes outside Bogota's bullring on Sunday.
There were violent scenes outside Bogota's bullring on Sunday.Leonardo Muñoz (EFE)
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Bullfighting has pitted animal-rights groups against defenders of the blood sport in Colombia. Sunday saw violent incidents outside Bogota’s La Santamaría bullring where the first corrida was held in the capital after a more than four-year absence. Around 1,000 protesters were met by 1,200 riot police who fired tear gas to disperse them. Several arrests were made and at least 34 people were injured, among them five police officers.

Following a meeting with animal-rights groups, Cristo said he would talk with deputies in Congress “to build an initiative to look to ban bullfighting in Colombia.”

Colombia’s Constitutional Court has already overturned a ban in Bogota

La Santamaría was closed in June 2012 after the then-mayor, Gustavo Petro, said City Hall would refuse to lease it out to bullfighting organizers, saying it should be used “for activities to do with life, not with death.”

But in September 2014, the country’s Constitutional Court accepted an appeal against the ban and ruled a return of the activity to Bogota, saying there was “no legal norm that imposes a general ban on bullfighting,” highlighting the blood sport as part of the “cultural tradition of the nation.”

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Bogota’s current mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, is also an outspoken opponent of bullfighting, but has banned any demonstrations outside La Santamaría for the rest of the bullfighting season.

Meanwhile, Colombian matador Luis Bolívar, who performed at Sunday’s inaugural bullfight alongside Spain’s El Juli and Peruvian bullfighter Andrés Roca Rey, says he has received death threats through the social networks.

He published a screen-shot on his Twitter account of one message that included a threat to “stab” him to death. “This is just one of many messages I have received by so-called animal-lovers,” he wrote. The sender also said he wanted to see Bolívar’s family killed, prompting the bullfighter to ask his followers for advice and whether he should report the threats to the authorities.

Bolívar said that the end of his profession would only be decided “when aficionados stop coming to bullfights. Until then, we are free to choose what we like.”

English version by Nick Lyne.


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