Bullfighting Referendum

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The bullfighting topic is controversial itself and for me, due to personal reasons, much more. As I recall every time some one asks me why I go to bullfights I know it is politically incorrect but it is also a family tradition. Furthermore, some of my first childhood memories, those important memories in which grownups start to include kids in plans and you start to feel very important, those special moments that make the children feel very happy are precisely for me in the bullfight pit.

A family tradition

It is definitely an acquired taste and interest, a family tradition that makes us understand how the cultural construct is passed on generation by generation because although it is not an appropriate spectacle for kids I can’t remember my self or any kid in my family saying or thinking that it was cruel or that poor animal that has to suffer.

Creative Commons © Solkes

I just tended to enjoy it. Eventually I began to learn about it and building my own bullfighting criteria and knowing if the bullfight I was watching was good enough or could be better.

However, people grow and the questions start to pop up. I got to understand that bullfights are a cruel act and most of all that it is unjustified that in the XXI century people still boast about making the power struggle between animals and men a public show, just as in times of the Roman Circus.

A show for the people

It is also true all what they say that these are animals that are trained to fight with the bullfighter, that the cattle’s death in the slaughterhouses in which animals are sacrificed to turn them the meat that we eat daily is also questionable and extremely cruel, but the thing with the bullfights, animal the suffering became a open-public show. This made us question the interest in this particular tradition.

In this new scenario full of questions and moral doubts I have relatives who also grew in a bull fight pit who are unable to attend a bull fight these days. They can’t seem to resist seeing the expressions of suffering and they believe that in some ways is inconsistent to watch and protect their pets as if they were human beings, defend and practice pet adoption and at the same time pay and go to a spectacle in which the animals suffering is evident and permanent.

Consulta AntiTaurina © Solkes

Although the suffering bothers me too I do like the atmosphere in the bull fight pit, the horses, the bullfighters’ bravery, the pasodobles that tune in the background, the food, the drinks the colors around the bull fight pit and all the infinite traditions that are woven around the place. Not necessarily what happens in the death time.

Each coin has two sides and bull fighting is not an exception.


I clearly understand where the activists fight begins. They are trying to protect animal’s right to life. I also understand that every cultural manifestation must have both supporters and enemies in order to exist and survive. I understand that the activists cause is struggle for the respect of an animal’s life. I understand that for them the bullfight prohibition is a huge success.

But I also understand and know for a fact that there are lots of people, entire groups that not only enjoy bull fighting but also benefit from this industry –like it or not it is and industry that generates incomes, jobs, clients, providers and they offer a specific service-.

Consulta AntiTaurina © Solkes

Those who defend them also have solid and recognized arguments, especially from different legal frameworks, for asking that governments let them continue with their cultural expression and that antique tradition.


In 2012, Bogotá joined became part of a group of places that has banned bull fighting by law. Bogotá’s mayor, perhaps the most controversial one in years, and who has been deposed unsuccessfully several times, decided in a demagogic act, such as most of his government actions, to forbid bull fighting in the city’s bullfight pit. His argument was that it belongs to the district and that as he is the city´s manager he can also decide how to manage the availability of that place.

It sounds kind of logical but what happens when most of the global constitutions advocate mainly for the freedom of expression and the right to self-personality? Aren’t those Human Rights? The right that these people have of going to different places and having different types of cultural expressions in the place they live is being violated. The local government is not watching upon the interests of the minority cultural groups as they should.

Consulta AntiTaurina © Solkes

The Constitutional Court, the government’s body in charged of the compliance, guarantee offers and the proper operation and following of the National Constitution ruled that in fact. This ban was against the free development of personality and they also argued that no Mayor or governor was empowered to prohibit any cultural manifestation to the citizens. Moreover, the Fiesta Brava is considered as an artistic manifestation and the Constitution also states about the “Citizens’ free will to chose and develop artistic manifestations”. Finally and after The District interposed several legal resources that all failed and after the Mayor fought fondly and did every thing that occurred to him, in august, 2013 the Court ruled that bull fight should return as a public spectacle to Bogotá.

Today, almost two years after this whole thing began, the bullfight pit is still closed and the local government continues to ignore the mandate. This mayor has been proved that he does whatever he wants to do. At first, he first said that the Plaza was going to be a cultural space in which encounters between writers poets and students would happen to encourage literacy manifestations. Obviously that never happened. Then he argued that it was impossible to enable the place due to structural serious damages that it has and posed danger. As a result, they gave him a a specific time frame for fixing them, theoretically he assigned a public contract for the repairs and neither on that side the city has seen green light yet.

Political interests

Now, a few months away from the next mayor elections in Colombia, and casually when his popularity and acceptance rates are lower than ever, he reappers with the bullfighting subject and he not only propose but also makes the City Council approves him an anti taurine referendum. It means that the citizens would decide if bull fights return or not to Bogotá.

Consulta AntiTaurina © Solkes

Truthfully, this is a legal resource endorsed by the Constitution. Citizens have the right to plan and execute public referendums in order to decide on laws and crucial issues. But in this specific case there are some strong points that make us doubt about the legitimacy of the proposal.

Why does this subject appear precisely near to electoral times, could it be that the ruling Lord is trying to raise his favorability and he chose a topic in which he knew he would found many followers? Why the referendums that were scheduled for consulting the revoke of his government or the ones that tried to legitimate the ruling decrees that ousted him never got to happen? Is it worth it that a country with a whole wide of resources limitations, to invest large amount of money on a survey that is not crucial or vital to the city while other essential issues such as the health and educational coverage or mobility or security problems seem to be completely neglected? No one knows for sure.

The only thing that is certain is that with that invested resources they could pay many scholar places or address several priorities and yet, in Bogotá the last and final word about bull fighting would be in the citizens hands. Let’s hope at least that the characteristic abstention would not reign and therefore, all that money would be bounce away.

Translated By: Juanita Bernal Sanint

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