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MEXICO: The Bulls...

Raśl Escalante enters the ring, talking peace to the bull and the bullfighter:

"Although middle-class Mexican and strongly anti-"tauromaquia", I disagree with the hint that most middle and upper class Mexicans abhor bullfighting. I tend to be skeptical of polls which give such lop-sided results. If bull-fighting wasn't popular then it wouldn't receive the attention it does in nearly all mass media. In short: it wouldn't be business, and good business it is.

From what I've heard on the radio in the last few weeks, there have been numerous scandals surrounding the regulatory post-mortems that should be performed on the bulls (although I haven't delved in the details). I've also heard the Vaseline stories (as well as other more gruesome practices) and believe they do take place, especially in the less supervised rings, or where spectators aren't well versed in the art (such as tourist destinations).

My opinion is that when bullfighting eventually ends (as I'm sure it will some day thanks to education and growing enlightenment) it will indeed be a cultural loss, in the same way that the end of human sacrifice in mass religious rites was a cultural loss. To use a Victorian phrase, progress has its costs but it also has many benefits.

My family has been an active participant in the Mexican anti-cruelty to animals movement (we've helped run an animal shelter for a few decades now, etc.). Sadly, our experience has led me to believe that most people in Mexico are more or less indifferent to animal suffering, which is not uncommon in most developing countries. When you see poverty and other forms of suffering on the streets every day, it is hard not to develop immunity to other creatures' pain. Although we are as generally compassionate as people from most other countries I've lived in, I think we still aren't as proactive in our defence of animals as is the common Englishman, Norwegian or American (ironically all three countries have relatively cruel traditions such as fox and seal hunting, whaling, etc.). "

My comment: Bull-fighting has aroused such feelings, pro and con, among WAISers, that I have suggested adding it in the conference session on sports. Bullfighting is an international sport, and the campaign against it likewise, so it would be very appropriate. It also brings in tourism, and tourist money.

Ronald Hilton - 2/08/01