Mexico City considers bullfight ban

When the conquistadors brought bullfighting to Mexico more than 500 years ago, few could have foreseen how popular it would become.

Today, the largest bullring in the world can be found in Mexico City, and the country is regarded as second only to Spain for the quality and number of bullfighters and bulls that it produces.

But all that could change today as legislators are set to vote on whether to ban the sport in the Mexican capital.

In recent years a growing number of Mexicans have turned against a tradition that many regard as both barbaric and a cultural imposition of Spanish colonialism.

Last month, a sub-committee of the Mexico City Legislative Assembly approved a Bill to ban bullfighting in the capital. That means the 66 members of the full body have until the end of the current legislative session, which ends today, to vote on the measure.

But fans of the spectacle, which is hugely popular across the country, are not going down without a fight.

Throughout last week, the city was gripped by protests for and against the ban. On Tuesday, the protests briefly descended into violence when an animal rights activist kicked a former bullfighter, prompting a punch-up until police separated the pair.

Every year, an average of 9,000 bulls are killed up and down the country, at the 225 official bullrings and in dusty provincial town squares where rickety wooden barriers are put up to host the disturbing, compelling spectacle. But many in Mexico City see bullfighting as harmful in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Aleida Alavez Ruiz, a city congresswoman, said: "In this country we are living an absurd war against drug dealers which has left thousands dead and we cannot allow bloody traditions like bullfighting to continue being part of our culture."

The Bill is thought to have a strong chance of being passed, with the 34 members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), which has a one-vote majority, in favour.

The Spanish region of Catalonia passed a similar ban in September last year. Bullfighting is still permitted in all other regions in Spain. It is popular in several other Latin American nations, particularly Colombia and Peru.

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