The Bullfight

ECI's stance on this controversial topic

Is it a senseless and cruel relic from the past? Or an exciting art, integral to Spanish culture and tradition? Some anticipate the colorful costumes and ritualized ceremony with glee; others are repulsed by what they see as an inhumane and pointless sport.

Of course, I have an opinion. And so does just about everyone who asks if we take our groups to see a bullfight.

In fact, bullfighting was banned in a ruling by the regional parliament this past July in Barcelona, and in the rest of Catalonia (the northeastern part of Spain). No bullfights are supposed to take place there after January 2012.

While animal rights activists are pleased, the reality is that:

  • The ban has less to do with animal cruelty and more to do with the politics of separating Catalonia from everything having to do with the rest of Spain.
  • There are still lots of bull-related festivals firmly rooted in Catalonian culture, which are not affected by the proposed ban.

I know that becoming a matador is difficult. They train long and hard. And I am well aware of the dangers of judging cultural practices in other countries.

But, there’s just no way I can justify the torturing of animals. Neither can my co-director, Marie.

So you won't find bullfighting listed on an ECI itinerary

Students who want to go can do so in small groups, accompanied by a chaperone, just not as an ECI sponsored activity. This may not be the most democratic approach, but it is pretty much non-negotiable for us.

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