Colombia could end bullfighting as Congress debates total ban

Animal rights activists protest outside Colombia's Congress. Photo: Daniel Eduardo Rojas Sánchez.
Animal rights activists protest outside Colombia's Congress. Photo: Daniel Eduardo Rojas Sánchez.

The Colombian Congress has two more debates before lawmakers make a decision on the future of bullfighting, and whether corralejas, a traditional sport on the Caribbean coast in which spectators chase bulls, should also be banned.

Even though a final decision is not expected until later next month, animal rights activists staged in Bogotá’s Plaza de Bolívar a performance to petition house representatives to support a total ban on cultural practices that involve animals.  The proposed legislation, if passed, would phase-out bullfighting over the next three years.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro supports legislation to ban bullfighting and promised government resources for animal protection in the National Development Plan.   Colombia is one of eight countries where the bullfighting tradition continues, despite having a strong animal rights culture and movements. The other countries that have yet to ban bullfighting are Spain, France, Mexico, Portugal, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador.

If Law 85 of 2022 is sanctioned by Congress, the national government would have to find economic alternatives for those whose livelihoods depend on keeping the “fiesta brava” going. “I am the voice of the bulls that you torture, and death you celebrate as if I were not a living being,” remarked Senator Andrea Padilla, during a protest in which supporters of the bill held placards with the words: “Bullfights and corralejas are violence” and “Colombia screams, ban them now!”.  “We are faced with a historic opportunity to respond to millions of Colombians who are tired of violence against animals,” noted the animalist Senator from the Green Party

“For the first time, the project has surpassed two debates in the Upper House, so this is why organizations are mobilizing to send a strong message to Congress.”  The performance included eight protestors smearing their torsos with red paint and wearing bull masks. “Peace in Colombia cannot be achieved without our animals,” stated Derly Flores, director of Colombia Animanaturalis. “A nation that yearns for peace cannot promote sadism and cruelty.”