After impassioned debate, Catalonia bans bullfighting
Vote’s critics say move has nationalist motives
BARCELONA, Spain — The independence-minded region of Catalonia became the first on the Spanish mainland to outlaw bullfighting Wednesday after impassioned debate.
Lawmakers in Catalonia’s regional assembly approved the ban after emotional speeches that mixed expressions of support for maintaining tradition with denunciations of bullfighting as institutionalized cruelty.
The vote culminated a public initiative to ditch bullfighting that began more than 1½ years ago and has drawn international media coverage. Backers of the ban erupted in cheers in the assembly chamber’s gallery.
But critics have assailed the campaign for a ban as a pretext for more nakedly political and nationalist ends. They suspect the true motive is a desire to poke a stick in the eye of the rest of Spain, an assertion of Catalan identity as different.
Earlier this month, Catalan nationalists put on one of the biggest demonstrations ever seen in this part of northern Spain. The protest was fueled by outrage over a ruling by Spain’s constitutional court that upheld most of Catalonia’s charter on greater self-rule but refused to recognize a legal basis for calling the region a “nation.”
Conservatives say that getting rid of bullfighting further undermines Spanish unity. Advocates of the ban reject suggestions that their views or actions are a byproduct of Catalan separatism. They see bullfighting not as a tradition steeped in romance but a barbaric practice steeped in blood.
Animal rights activists in Madrid celebrate the decision by Catalonia lawmakers Wednesday to ban bullfights in their northern region of Spain.