Matadors in the Mexican capital, home to the largest bullring on the planet, are fighting to prevent a ban on a practice brought by the Spanish conquistadors five centuries ago.
Although the debate is not new, in December, an animal welfare commission in Mexico City’s legislature approved a proposal to prohibit the tradition in the city of around nine million people.
No date has yet been set for a vote by Mexico City lawmakers on the issue, after the commission opted to open a dialogue with people who would be affected.
But the capital is also considered a progressive stronghold in the conservative Catholic-majority country, and a pioneer in areas such as same-sex marriage, legal abortion and the treatment of animals.
Supporters of bullfighting say the city’s freedoms should also apply to them.
The organization argues a ban would be “very bad news” for liberties if the authorities imposed the moral values of one part of society on another.
The group wants the proposed ban to be debated from a perspective of “freedom” and not of “fads or political correctness.”
“It affects me indirectly when they kill and injure a sentient animal in a public arena for fun,” said Jorge Gavino, a lawmaker in the Mexico City legislature who supports a ban on shows where animals are killed or mistreated.
Scientifically, it can be demonstrated that the bull suffers during a fight, he added.
Seven others protect the tradition — which dates back to the time of the Spanish conquest in the 16th century — as cultural heritage.
Juan Pedro Llaguno, a 22-year-old Mexican matador and grandson of breeders, said it is a “privilege” to step into the ring to fight a bull that he has known since birth.
Llaguno believes a bull “is born to be fought” and to die in the bullring.
Bullfighters also point to the economic value of the industry, which generated $343 million in 2018, creating some 80,000 direct jobs and 146,000 indirect jobs, according to industry data corroborated by the agriculture ministry.
In Venezuela, which also has a long tradition of bullfighting, judges banned events in two states in December and January,
In June 2020, authorities in the Colombian capital Bogota decided to ban the mistreatment and killing of bulls in bullfights.
Other countries where bullfighting is allowed include Spain, France and Portugal.