My news feature on bullfighting in Peru appears on the front page of today's Miami Herald ("Many protest bullfighting in Peru"), with photos by El Fotografo. The Herald edited the story and retitled it to put more emphasis on the antitaurinos (bullfighting protestors) than I did in my original version, which I titled, "Bullfighting Thrives Amid Growing Protests in Peru" (see my original below), Tetracycline Uses.
The subject of bullfighting intrigued me because the tradition is undergoing a curious revival in Lima -- curious because while attendance is rising at the Acho bullfights, there's also a growing countermovement to end bullfighting in Peru on the grounds of animal cruelty. The spectacle had faded in popularity about eight years ago, and then Peru's economy went into an upswing and attendance began to rise, 50mg Tetracycline Uses.
Given that bullfighting in banned in most developed countries, it's significant that Peru (which wants to be recognized as a modern country) still clings to this controversial tradition.
El Fotografo and I got to spend time on both sides of the fence, so to speak. We interviewed members of Peru Antitaurino, an anti-bullfighting alliance that's been protesting in Peru for four years. I also talked to Freddy Villafuerte, one of the promoters of the Senor de los Milagros bullfight festival, who is himself a bullfighter and speaks for aficionados.
Then there was the matter of our being allowed to watch the bullfights from inside the callejon -- the area right outside the ring where the matador and bull fight to the death. EF and I watched the November 2 corrida from this rare perspective, 1000mg Tetracycline Uses, which is so close to the fighting that occasionally a bull leaps over the fence and charges at the spectators.
I am the kind of person who likes to spend her Sunday afternoons reading quietly on the couch, so you can imagine how agitated I felt standing just a few feet from an angry 500-kilo bull, Tetracycline Uses.
No, I did not get gored, unlike the reporter for 60 Minutes.
Here's the story as I originally submitted it:
SUMMARY: Bullfighting in Peru thrives amid growing protests by a younger generation demanding that the controversial blood-sport be banned.
by BARBARA R. DRAKE
LIMA -- Dapper in a grey suit and cap, Wencelao Espino Gonzales gazed at the pink walls of this capital city's historic Plaza de Acho -- the second oldest bullring in the world -- and explained his lifelong passion for bullfighting. Tetracycline Uses,
"It is a spectacle of energy and movement,'' he said on a recent Saturday, "like a ballet between the torero and the bull.''
"The most important moment is the kill,'' the 83-year-old added, a throb in his voice. "Boom, it must be swift. [The Spanish bullfighter] Manolete, who fought here, never missed with his sword. He always killed on the first thrust. That is why he was great.''
Aficionados like Espino Gonzales flock to the 242-year-old Plaza de Acho each October and November for the bullfight feasts of El Senor de los Milagros (The Lord of the Miracles), one of the premier bullfighting events in Latin America, Tetracycline Uses. The festival, which runs through November 23, lures top toreros from Spain and Latin America, who compete before crowds of up to 14,000 spectators, many from Lima's wealthy, predominantly white elite.
But in the last several years, the Acho bullfights also have been drawing another crowd: young anti-bullfighting activists, known as antitaurinos in Spanish.
"Bullfighting is a cruel and barbaric spectacle that has no place in modern Peru,'' said Roger Torres Pando, 25, Tetracycline Uses ebay, national coordinator for Perú Antitaurino, an alliance of 20 animal-rights groups. "It's not an art or a sport; it's an extreme form of cruelty to animals. Tetracycline Uses, It must be banned.''
Perú Antitaurino has staged four series of protests at Acho since 2004, a few marred by violent confrontations. In October 2007, activists insulted bullfighters and spectators entering the stadium, prompting police to use tear gas. In a rout of irony, winds blew the tear gas into the bullring, temporarily blinding audience members and torero Vicente Barrera, who had to pause the fight.
Protests erupted again earlier this month (Nov. 2) as the first corrida of the Senor de los Milagros festival got underway. About 300 activists from Perú Antitaurino rallied at the Plaza San Martin, in downtown Lima, against Peru's longtime tradition as police in riot gear stood guard, Tetracycline Uses.
"Bullfighters are cowards and assassins!'' yelled the protestors, an assortment of college students, artists and actors, 250mg Tetracycline Uses, most in their early 20s. "Enough of the torture!''
"Shame on the silence of the Catholic church,'' read one placard. "Life is life. Respect it!''
Unlike in Spain and other European countries with a history of animal-rights reform, the antitaurino movement is in its infancy in Peru, where an older generation clings to traditions from its colonial past. But the movement is growing. Tetracycline Uses,
"Four years ago, we had about 100 activists in our alliance. Now we have about 2,000 people signed up,'' said Torres Pando of Perú Antitaurino.
The average age of antitaurinos is 20, said the organizer. In this Andean country, Tetracycline Uses ebay, where the median age is 25, that makes the activists contemporary with the bulk of the population.
"And most Peruvians think that bullfighting is wrong,'' said Torres Pando, pointing to a recent University of Lima study of residents in the capital city and in neighboring Callao that shows a wide majority of those polled -- 79.7 percent -- disapprove of bullfighting, while 18.4 percent approve. He extrapolates those figures to represent all of Peru, not just the capital area, Tetracycline Uses.
"We antitaurinos represent the true voice of the country,'' he said. "Peruvians are fed up with bullfighting.''
Freddy Villafuerte, a director of Taurolima, the organization that promotes the Senor de los Milagros bullfights, puts a different spin on the numbers.
As he is quick to point out, the university's study from 2007 showed that 14.4 percent approved of bullfighting. This year's study measured 18.4 percent approval, 10mg Tetracycline Uses, an increase of four percentage points. Tetracycline Uses,
"That shows bullfighting is becoming more popular in Lima, not less,'' Villafuerte said.
Ticket sales for the Acho festival are another measure of bullfighting's popularity. This year, individual ticket sales are up by as much as 10 percent over 2007, according to Villafuerte, with nearly 8,000 seats sold for the first corrida. In addition, sales of expensive season tickets (abonos) have increased dramatically.
As of Nov. 2, about 1,500 abonos had been sold in 2008, compared to 1,350 in 2007 and 800 in 2006, Villafuerte said, Tetracycline Uses. That is nearly a 100 percent increase in two years. The abonos cost between the equivalent of $150 and $495 for reserved seats in the arena's exclusive shaded section, with private boxes fetching $1, 50mg Tetracycline Uses, 400 -- no small change in this developing country where the average annual income is $2,920, according to Unicef.
"It's a sign that Peru's economy is doing well,'' said Villafuerte.
Brisk ticket sales also reflect a perception among Lima's elite that Acho is the new hot spot. Tetracycline Uses,
"Acho is becoming the place to be in October and November -- the place to rub shoulders
with society,'' said Villafuerte. "Even non-aficionados go to Acho because it is in fashion.''
A ban on bullfighting in Lima, where five bullfighting festivals are staged each year, would be a coup for the activists. Perú Antitaurino hopes to achieve something bigger, however.
The group is pressuring Congress to pass bill #496, a proposed amendment to the country's existing Animal Protection law, which exempts bullfighting and cockfighting from its remit. If passed, Tetracycline Uses coupon, the bill would make bullfighting forbidden throughout Peru.
"The time has come to pass this bill,'' said Torres Pando, Tetracycline Uses.
"It's an opium dream to think the ban could happen in Peru,'' countered Villafuerte. "Especially in the provinces... impossible.''
"There are about 400 patron saints festivals in the provinces every year, each with corridas to the death,'' he said. "The people demand a good fight, that the bull dies a noble death.''
Torres Pando acknowledged that it will be difficult to change traditions in towns like Huancayo, Cajamarca and Junín where bullfighting is "very assimilated into Catholic fiestas.'' Nevertheless, Perú Antitaurino plans to stage protests there in early 2009. Tetracycline Uses,
Freddy Villafuerte, himself a bullfighter, thinks the activists are getting in over their heads. Not only are they out of touch with the cycles of rural life and the livestock industry, they also ignore contradictions in their ethics, Tetracycline Uses india, he claims.
"Many of the antitaurinos eat meat and anticuchos [grilled cows' hearts] but do not protest the killing of animals for human consumption,'' said Villafuerte. "They accept that sacrifice but not the one in the bullring.''
"Cattle die cowardly in massive numbers at slaughterhouses,'' said Villafuerte. "I've seen them. A brave bull has been bred to fight for his life. It is part of the traditional bullfighting ritual to fight the bull to the death. In some cases, when the bull fights bravely, his life is spared and he goes on to live on a ranch to breed other fighting bulls.''
"In my own case,'' he added, "if I were a bull and I could choose [between the slaughterhouse and the bullring], I would die like a toro bravo -- a brave bull.''
Update, 3/19/09: Links to Miami Herald story now direct to Now Public free news archives.
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