August 4, 2021

Cultura y el Toro, a flagrant contradiction in the form of a national award | Blog The bull, by the horns

In view of the situation that bullfighting is going through, it is better not to walk around with hot cloths.

The National Bullfighting Prize that the Ministry of Culture has just awarded to the Fundación del Toro de Lidia (FTL) contains one more of the many contradictions that preside over the very strange relations between the world of bullfighting and the Public Administration since the times of the dictatorship.

Thus, from the outset, it does not seem logical that a Government that is not distinguished by the support and promotion of bullfighting should recognize the entity that, today, represents the sector with an award.

Nor does it seem that the Foundation, tired of receiving affronts, silences, bad manners, forgetfulness and abuses from the Ministries of Culture and Labor, gladly accepts a government award that offers no more satisfaction than the 30,000 euros of financial endowment that it implies.

To begin with, it could be said that the award is not awarded by the ministry; This is summoned, financed and approved by the opinion of a jury made up entirely of representatives of the bullfighting sector, including several leaders and partners of the foundation; In other words, it is not the ministry that rewards, but rather the one that pays a recognition that bullfighters pay to the foundation. It is not the same, although it may seem so.

It is time for the party to have a representative body before itself

The Ministry of Culture limits itself to complying with a regulation written in a royal decree dated November 3, 2011, signed by the then Socialist Minister Ángeles González-Sinde, which established the creation of a National Bullfighting Prize, as a result of the transfer of the bullfighting competitions of the Ministry of the Interior to Culture.

That Royal Decree says the following verbatim:

“The transfer of competences from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Culture in matters of promotion and protection of bullfighting, carried out by means of Royal Decree 1151/2011, of July 29, establishes the consideration of bullfighting activity as a discipline artistic, and a cultural product and, therefore, an activity worthy of the promotion and protection of culture, which article 149.2 of the Spanish Constitution entrusts to the State as an essential duty and attribution. Among the measures to promote bullfighting, as a cultural activity, that the Ministry of Culture can address, the creation of a new National Bullfighting Prize is timely and appropriate, along with those already included in the Order of June 22, 1995, by means of which the extraordinary merits of a professional bullfighter are recognized annually, in all its different manifestations (bullfighter, rancher, businessman, etc.), or of a person or institution that has stood out for their work in favor of the diffusion of the cultural values ​​of bullfighting ”.

Take into account the data: two years before the parliamentary approval of Law 18/2013 of November 12, for the regulation of bullfighting as cultural heritage, the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero already recognized the bullfighting festival as “ artistic discipline ”and“ cultural product ”.

José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, Minister of Culture and Sports.
José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, Minister of Culture and Sports. Efe

In 2013, Paco Ojeda was the first winner; and was followed by photographer Francisco Cano, ‘Canito’, the Madrid Bullfighting School Marcial Lalanda, Victorino Martín, Enrique Ponce, Juan José Padilla, the Forum for the Promotion, Defense and Debate of Novilladas, and the Bullfighting Foundation .

The current Ministry of Culture has limited itself to announcing an award created by another socialist government, putting its signature on the jury’s minutes and contributing 30,000 euros.

(It is not news that this amount, together with the 35,000 euros that the Fundación del Toro de Lidia receives as a subsidy, is the economic amount that appears in the General State Budgets for bullfighting; Note, pure anecdote, that the FTL brings together this year all the official bullfighting aid of the Central Executive).

The existence of the Foundation is not at stake, but that of bullfighting

Has the FTL acted correctly by accepting the Culture award?

It is true that the 30,000 euros will come in handy for his meager budget, but the matter would have required, perhaps, a different and more demanding reaction: fewer awards and more public recognition of bullfighting and its people, fewer awards and more commitment, less nudges and smiles with face masks and more effective support and advocacy.

Victorino Martín and the FTL employers continue to trust the ways of a Minister of Culture who has only offered them empty words. And, perhaps, they have accepted the award as a gesture of goodwill, convinced that the Government will finally recognize the bullfighting festival as a cultural industry, with the budget and the boost it deserves.

So far, this attitude has not been shown to be the most effective, and the few real results of the negotiation are in sight; Furthermore, Minister Rodríguez Uribes does not miss an opportunity to land through what might seem like an approach to bullfighting.

In addition, not all the sector considers that this is the correct strategy. For example, the picadors, banderilleros and young men of the sword, who have taken to the streets, have staged striking public protests and have achieved (with the help of the FTL, it is true, but thanks, above all, to their brave decision) that the Government finally approve the aid that Trabajo has systematically denied them.

And one more detail: the Culture award should serve the FTL to go one step further. Last June, Victorino Martín said in this blog that “this show needs a representative body in front of third parties”, and that has been the fundamental work of the entity that he presides. And he said something else: the FTL should not get into professional matters.

This is the time for bullfighting to have a representative body before itself and seriously address professional affairs.

Animalism, attacks on social networks and relationships with politicians are not the only drawbacks of bullfighting. The sector is stale, stagnant, maladjusted, and demands an urgent internal revolution.

Only if it faces this reality, with all the problems that this entails in a sector with sometimes seemingly irreconcilable interests, will the FTL win a prize that is now meaningless.

“Every time a bullfighting body has tried to address professional issues, it has disappeared,” Victorino added in June.

Well, we will have to try, despite everything, because what is at stake today is not the existence of the foundation, but that of bullfighting.

As it is, today the FTL should be told what Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) said to Private Ryan in the famous Steven Spielberg film: “Make yourself worthy of this; Deserve it ”.


The contradictions between the bullfighting world and the Administration are not current. On January 19, 1970, the BOE published the decree by which the Medals of Merit for Fine Arts were created; Under the disposition of the Ministry of Education and Science appeared the signatures of Francisco Franco and Minister José Luis Villar Palasí.

Until 1996, in the middle of the democratic period, the first bullfighter (Antonio Ordóñez) did not appear among the winners. So that later they say that bullfighting is Francoist …


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