As of Sunday 25th September, matadors have taken their final bow in Barcelona after a vote that’s banned bullfighting in the Spanish region of Catalonia. The regional legislature banned the centuries-old tradition – which puts a sword-wielding matador in a skin-tight shiny suit and red cape against an enraged bull – last year after Catalans signed a petition against it.
About 20,000 spectators filled Barcelona’s famous Monumental arena on Sunday to watch top matadors performed. Spain’s top three matadors performed at the arena, including legendary Jose Tomas. They killed six half-tonne bulls to loud shouts of “Ole!” from the fans.
Lawmakers voted for the ban last year – the first in mainland Spain – after 180,000 people signed a petition. They say the bullfighting is barbaric, but opponents say they will challenge the ban in Spain’s top court.
The ban takes effect on 1 January, but Sunday’s fights in Catalonia were the last events of the 2011 season.
The bullfighting industry is still convinced it has a chance to overturn the ban and bring back the “toros” next season to Catalonia, the only mainland region in Spain that has blocked the sport – or the art as its fans see it. The only other Spanish region to end bullfights was the Canary Islands, in 1991.
Across Spain, anti-bullfighting protests are commonplace. Those against the “corridas” (bullfighters) argue that the tradition has no place in modern-day society, where cruelty to animals is unacceptable. There is a growing awareness of animal rights and, crucially, the desire of Catalan nationalists to distinguish the region from the rest of Spain and its traditions. Campaigners hope to extend the ban across the country, but they face a far tougher task in traditional bullfighting heartlands like Andalucia and Madrid. However, in Barcelona, bullfighting fans have shouted “Ole” for the very last time…. What are your views on the ban?