Everything was ready for the happy start of the season, when the ground opened, and amazement, fear and uncertainty seized a sector caught by pins and a hobby accustomed to disappointments but not to an earthquake of the proportions of the pandemic.
It was the first months of 2020.
It had been announced that Joselito El Gallo would be the protagonist of the cultural program of the San Isidro Fair; the posters of the April Fair were on the street; La Magdalena and Las Fallas greased the bolt of the gang door; Simón Casas announced that he had hired José Tomás for Nimes, and the San Isidro posters were being cooked.
And suddenly darkness covered everything, and initial disbelief gave way to resignation. The year 2020 was presented as the most dramatic in the history of bullfighting. So it was.
The Ministers of Culture and Labor, protagonists of the bullfighting season
The fairs were suspended, the Isidrile combinations were never known, the squares were closed, the bullfighters hung up their gold and silver suits, the bulls prepared to nap in the pastures amid the despair of the ranchers, and fear spread like the gunpowder throughout the bullfighting world.
By April 90 shows had already been canceled, and crews were said to have lost 2 million euros. Picadores and banderilleros sent a letter to the Secretariats of Employment and Social Security in which they exposed their joblessness because they could not avail themselves of the protection measures approved by the Government as a result of the state of alarm.
Days later, the bullfighters accused the Government of discrimination by not recognizing their status as artists of public performances, according to a decree law of 1985.
The protests began. The bullfighting walks of the bullfighters in different cities led, first, to a concentration in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Labor and, later, to a violent escrache against Minister Yolanda Díaz in Toledo.
Meanwhile, trucks and lorries of fighting bulls ended up in the slaughterhouse, at 350/400 euros per copy, due to the unsustainable economic situation of their breeders.
Anyway, summer had not arrived and the bullfighting sector was sunk, knocked out and without the ability to move.
This was the misfortune.
The curtain was then raised to make way for the government-sponsored comic comedy starringto by two stellar ministers: José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, of Culture, and Yolanda Díaz, of Labor.
Both, with the special collaboration of Podemos, in the person of Pablo Iglesias, have led the largest and most serious political offensive against the bullfighting festival.
Rodríguez Uribes has moved on the razor’s edge, between education and the attention due to a large group with problems and the firm decision not to contribute a grain of sand to the recovery of bullfighting. He has met several times with Victorino Martín, president of the Toro de Lidia Foundation, he has distributed cordial elbows, good words and fraternal wishes, but his support has been null. An attentive and educated man, convinced deep down, perhaps, that the bullfighting party does not deserve more attention than that advised by courtesy.
The labor minister has been more serious. Not only has he not met with the sector, but his department has systematically denied bullfighters any type of aid approved by the executive for workers affected by the pandemic.
The pandemic has allowed the union of the sector for the first time in history
The State Public Employment Service (SEPE) denied the vast majority of the requests for benefits presented (some provincial delegations approved no more than ten before the directives to the contrary issued by the ministry), which has given rise to legal claims and complaints. still pending resolution.
As the minister has not deigned to explain the reasons for her decision, it must be inferred that she did so for ideological reasons: she does not like bulls, period.
It is true, however, that on November 3 the council of ministers approved “an extraordinary unemployment benefit for the most vulnerable workers in the bullfighting sector”, which would include three payments: November, December and January.
According to Antonio José Martínez Marcos, legal advisor to the National Union of Picadores and Banderilleros (UNPBE), none of the applicants has received any monthly payment yet; And what is worse: at this point in the year, the Government still does not recognize bullfighters as “artists in public shows”, as expressly stated in Decree Law 1435/1985 of August 1.
But since everything was not going to be penalties, the year 2020 provided a joy: there were bulls; few, but there were, which was an important achievement because the general conviction in spring is that not a single bullring would open.
The bullfighting sector came together for the first time in history, made a big deal out of it and lit up the so-called Reconstruction Tour, -manifestly improvable-, 21 celebrations in second and third places, of those that have been celebrated (with the family, yes ) 19, and has served to show that the party is alive, and to rebuild the Toros de Movistar channel in front of its subscribers. It is true, however, that without television sponsorship it would not have been possible to hold these shows.
Something is something, but little.
After the start of the Tour, nothing, when bullfighters, ranchers and businessmen were expected to sit around a table and not get up until they designed a new bullfighting for the 21st century, and a strategy to demand fair treatment from the Government, in accordance with what the law and the Constitution determine.
And a final note: the comedy sponsored by the Government has had some luxury secondary: the Autonomous Communities (the supposedly bullfighting, it is understood). Like Rodríguez Uribes, socialist and popular presidents have elbowed out, but little bread. Lots of smiles, but budget crumbs for the bull world.
The 2020 season has just been dragged by the mulillas. What is not clear is whether misfortune and comedy remain in the corrals, or whether the joys will continue in the next bull …