Barcelona stages final bullfight before regional ban

Three top matadors slayed six half-tonne bulls Sunday in the last bullfight held in Catalonia before a ban on the centuries-old tradition comes into effect in the northeastern Spanish region.

The sold-out crowd of 18,000 applauded and chanted "Freedom!" throughout the bullfight at Barcelona's Monumental arena, the city's last active bullring which opened its doors in 1914.

Serafin Marin, a 28-year-old Catalan who is a fierce defender of the tradition, put his hand over his heart after he slayed the last bull, a 570-kilo (1,250-pound) beast named "Dudalegre".

The crowd later carried all three matadors who took part in the bullfight on their shoulders out of the arena to the applause of onlookers.

"For a city like Barcelona to close this arena is like throwing a Picasso painting into the garbage," said 68-year-old Cristobal, who declined to give his last name, before taking his seat at the Monumental for the bullfight.

Catalonia's regional parliament voted in July 2010 to ban bullfighting from January 1, 2012 after animal rights groups managed to garner 180,000 signatures for a petition demanding the debate.

It was the first region in mainland Spain to ban the tradition. While the move fueled the debate across the country over bullfighting, there is little sign that any other Spanish region is poised to follow Catalonia's example.

Spain's Canary Islands banned bullfighting in 1991.

Marin and other critics say the move was as much about Catalonia, which has its own language and where many seek independence from Spain, underlining its regional identity as an issue of animal rights.

They point out that other festivals, including one in which flaming torches are attached to the horns of a bull, which is then pursued through the streets, will survive the new regime.

"This is a political law made for nationalistic motives: those that want an independent Catalonia want to cut everything that smells of Spain," said Marin, who wore a cape that featured the colours of the Catalan flag in the ring.

He plans to continue fighting bulls in arenas in other parts of Spain and in France.

"I feel bad about it, sad. They take away all your past and part of your future. I have been banned from carrying out my profession," he said.

Tickets for the final bullfight at the Monumental arena cost between 24 euros and 135 euros ($32 and $182) but scalpers were offering them at six times the cost outside the arena before the start of the bullfight.

The first matador to enter the arena was 48-year-old Juan Mora, who wore a green and gold suit, followed by the legendary 36-year-old Jose Tomas, who wore a black suit in a sign of protest against the end of bullfighting in Catalonia.

Marin was the last to perform, to grant him his wish of going down in history as the matador who killed the last bull at the Monumental arena.

"We have won a battle but not the war. We will continue to work for animal rights in Spain, Catalonia and elsewhere," said Helena Escoda, member of the rights group Prou, Catalan for "enough", which fought for the ban.

The bullfight has a long tradition in Catalonia, going back to the 16th century, but as in the rest of Spain interest in the sport is falling.

Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city, had three bullrings at one point. But the Monumental, the city's last active arena, hosted just 18 bullfights last year.

In a 2008 survey, only 22.5 percent of Catalans questioned said they were interested in the tradition.

While bullfighting is carried out across the country, its staunchest supporters can be found in Madrid and in the southern region of Andalusia, the heartland of the sport.

Bullfighting fans in Catalonia have not given up hope: they aim to find 500,000 backers to present their own petition to the national parliament and classify the combat as a cultural asset.

If they can do so by the end of this year, bullfighting fans believe they can stop the ban taking effect.

"At the moment the gathering of signatures is going more slowly than we like," admitted Carlos Nunez, head of the fighting-bull breeders' union.

elc/ds/gk

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee