Colombians protest in Bogota to urge ban on bullfighting
Bogota, Mar 28 (EFE).- After two debates in the Colombian Senate on prohibiting bullfighting and “corralejas” – bullfighting festivals – animal rights activists on Tuesday gathered in Bogota to stage a protest outside Congress, calling on lawmakers to continue pushing the legislative proposal forward to achieve “animal freedom” and end the shows in which animals are mistreated.
Led by Sen. Andrea Padilla, who is the sponsor of the bill, and carrying signs reading “Bullfights and corralejas are violence” and “Colombia cries ‘Ban them now!'” the animal rights activists displayed signs with that message to put pressure on legislators to vote in favor of the bill.
An emotional Padilla said: “I’m the voice of the bulls you’re torturing and whose death you’re celebrating as if I weren’t a living being.”
“We have an historic responsibility to respond to millions of Colombians who are tired of the violence against animals,” the senator shouted.
“For the first time, the bill has gotten through two debates in the Upper Chamber (of Congress) … and so today the organizations decided to mobilize to send an overwhelming message to the representatives in the Chamber,” the senator, a member of the Green Alliance party, told EFE.
Padilla said that she was concerned about the “electoral punishment” that lawmakers could be fearing, since bullfighting has a significant presence in the rural areas of Colombia and this year regional elections will be held, which could mean that lawmakers vote against the bill.
Although “they’ve been losing their fans precipitously,” the corralejas, which are “much more brutal,” are still being held around Colombia and are being promoted by “local leaders and landowners, who are the ones who (influence) the electoral dynamic.”
With their torsos bared and painted to look bloody, eight people wearing red cardboard bull heads sought to depict the cruelty to which the animals are subjected during the spectacles.
One of them said that a bull is “animal who feels, loves, suffers and wants to live,” adding: “I beg you to have mercy on me, let me live without causing me more suffering.”
“We wanted to make a performance with the aim of promoting Law 328, which has already gone through two positive debates in the Senate, and now arrives at the Chamber … and this is a very respectful call to the representatives,” Derly Flores, the director of Colombia Animanaturalis, told EFE.
She said that “Peace must include all living beings, so today we’re firmly crying no to bullfighting, no to corralejas. We want the bulls to live and, of course, we’re also concerned about the wellbeing of the people who participate in these activities.”
Shouting that “A nation yearning for peace cannot promote sadism and cruelty,” the demonstrators ended their march before Congress expressing the hope that this time they will be able to get lawmakers to ban violent spectacles involving animals.
“This is a citizens’ outcry. Colombia wants these cruel practices with animals to be eliminated,” Flores said.
In Colombia in recent months debate has resumed about whether to prohibit these kinds of events or festivals, and Law 328 is being moved through Congress with an eye toward ending these traditional events inherited from Spain and which are no longer held in cities like Bogota and Medellin.
The latest controversy surrounding this issue erupted when the Labor Ministry ordered an “immediate prohibition” on activities at the Cañaveralejo bullring, where bullfights regularly had been held during the traditional Cali Fair.