(Reuters) - Catalonia’s bullfighting ban, passed in the region’s parliament on Wednesday, provoked passionate reactions throughout Spain.
Catalonia, a region of northeastern Spain with a strong separatist movement, will become the first part of the country’s mainland to outlaw the centuries-old tradition. It has been banned in the Canary Islands for some years.
The ban was pushed by animal rights activists who want it extended across the entire country, but some Spaniards saw the vote as having more to do with Catalonia’s drive to cut Madrid’s political influence than with the protection of animals.
VICENTE ESTEBAN, Madrid, 63, taxi driver
“It’s a real shame, it’s been our national festival forever. People don’t have to go to the bullring and if they don’t like animals to die they better not eat meat either. Every living thing suffers.” Esteban goes to bullfights several times a year and fears the ban could catch on in other provinces.
SARA LUBRERAS, Plencia, Basque Country, 33
“I think this decision is fantastic. At this stage of the 21st century, this is a horrible abuse of animals and appalling that we can call animal-suffering a festival.
“I couldn’t eat meat knowing that the animal had been killed while people applauded its death. I’d be capable of becoming a vegetarian.”
PACO CARMONA, Madrid, former bullfighter and trainer
“I’m one more you can add to those who believe that this is a political issue ... Bullfighting has been used politically from the Second Republic to (former dictator Francisco) Franco (...) and the truth is it’s not as cruel as it’s made out to be...”
UNNAMED ACTIVIST, outside Barcelona parliament
“We are very happy that reason and compassion won against
barbarism. We have been working for many years toward this.”
FERNANDO MASEDO, Badajoz, Extremadura, head of the International Federation of Bullfighting schools
“There are other types of abuse that aren’t under attack... The Catalans voted how they did just because this is something Spanish.” He added that he did not foresee similar moves in other regions of Spain.
SIRA BILBAO, El Madrid, Asturias, 46, businesswoman
“The art of bullfighting isn’t an art when there’s blood involved. They could go through the whole ritual without killing the bull. There are traditions that have to adapt to current times. Look at women in the workforce.”
LUIS VILLANUEVA, Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz,
“It really hurts because we’d gone a long time with no prohibitions. I feel really bad for the fans in Barcelona, which is a great bullfighting city and now they’ll have to go to France or somewhere else to follow the sport.” He said bullfighting survived religious and political bans in the past.
ORIOL CAMPS, Reus, Catalonia, 34, notary
“People are obsessed with interpreting everything in Catalonia as a political divide. When the Canary Islands banned bullfighting it was accepted that it was a people’s movement. This is a question of cruelty to animals.”
GERARD PUJOL, Tarragona, 43, estate agent
“Finally, we’ve overcome this evil curse.”
PACO DE CASAS, Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz, 73, retiree
“It’s ridiculous for bullfighting to be prohibited. Haven’t they realized the number of jobs that will be destroyed by this? And bulls are a classic part of Catalonia ... I can’t understand this decision.”
PABLO GALLEGO, La Coruna, Galicia, 41, architect
“This is more about Catalonia wanting to separate itself from anything Spanish. Bullfighting isn’t a big part of Galician culture, but no one here is trying to prohibit it. It’s something that should be decided by people and not politicians.” EVA MORENO, Valencia, 43, flamenco dancer
“They’re in their own right to prohibit it, but I don’t think it reflects sentiment across the rest of Spain. There’s still a lot of bullfighting aficionados. It’s part of our culture.”
Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz, Alice Tozer, Tracy Rucinski and Fiona Ortiz, editing by Peter Millership