Spain's Catalonia expected to ban bullfights

Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:35pm EDT
 
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By Raquel Castillo

MADRID (Reuters) - Catalonia could become the first mainland Spanish region to ban bullfighting in a local parliamentary vote this Wednesday that has pitted animal rights activists against fans of the centuries-old national symbol.

The bill went to Parliament after 180,000 Catalans signed a petition circulated by anti-bullfighting group Prou! (Enough, in English), which argues bullfights are cruelty to animals.

In December the parliament voted 67 for and 59 against to take the citizens' petition under consideration, and the final vote on Wednesday is expected to echo that outcome as lawmakers of all stripes, from Socialists to conservatives from the nationalist CiU party, support the ban.

"We understand it's a tradition but now is the time to rethink such a bloody act. There are other traditions we can hang on to," Silvia Barquero, spokeswoman for the small anti-bullfighting party, or PACMA.

In the bullring, the torero and his team use capes, lances and darts to master the bull and then eventually kill it with a sword in a highly-ritualized performance.

The bullfight was made illegal in Spain's Canary Islands in 1991.

Under the ban, which would come into effect in 2012, the last active bullring in Catalonia's capital, Barcelona, would shut down as would the remaining few elsewhere in the region.

Opponents say bullfighting involves gratuitous animal suffering that has no place in a modern society.   Continued...