“The anti-bullfighting movement must be analyzed from a historical perspective. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the most important thing was the salvation of the soul and avoiding the danger that a man could die in sin and lose an eternity enjoying God. Later, the center moved to preserve the life of the human being; later, to the maintenance of the family, and, next, the safeguard of the state and the social environment. It was said then that bullfighting harmed agriculture because bulls were necessary to breed oxen, or that it was an example of bad habits and vices. And from all that has gone to the defense of the animal against the human being, which is a truly paradoxical evolution. “
Rafael Cabrera Bonet (Madrid, 1958) is a doctor, a specialist in forensic medicine and an official on leave of absence since he assumed responsibility for bullfighting information in the Cope chain in January 2007, where he worked until December 2010. He is a student of the festival bullfighting, passionate about history, paid to the Plaza de Las Ventas since 1979, and director of the Bullfighting Classroom of the CEU San Pablo University. But, above all, Rafael Cabrera is a recognized, respected and authoritative voice in bullfighting today.
– Is animalism as dangerous as it seems?
– “I don’t think I can end the show because it is deeply rooted in the tradition of this country, and, above all, in the popular spirit. And it doesn’t seem to me, furthermore, that the problem comes from there. What really worries me is that part of the bullfighting world will bend to its demands. The luck of the poles, the flags and the final thrust are getting worse and worse. There are those who are willing to accept a non-bloody party, and that is impossible because it breaks the liturgy of the bullfight. And I add, on the other hand, the increasing search for comfort by bullfighting professionals, which is at odds with the very essence of the rite, based on risk ”.
“More than animalism, I am concerned that part of the bullfighting world will bend to its demands”
– And now, another enemy: the coronavirus pandemic …
– “This crisis will have a serious impact on bullfighting. In the absence of celebrations for the hobbyist, there are the very serious economic consequences for bullfighters, ranchers, businessmen, swordmen and the entire network of auxiliary arts that participate in the organization and development of the shows; I also foresee an initial decrease in the number of people attending the festivities when the suspension is lifted, also aggravated by the fear of contagion in massive concentrations of people. Complicated panorama, that can border on the catastrophic if the season does not resume on June or July at the latest ”.
On the other hand, Cabrera considers that, in some way, the root of the party is being lost, and alludes to a phrase of thinkers of the early twentieth century: “Aesthetics will kill ethics”, which, in his opinion , will lead to a radical transformation of the show.
“I believe that the bull will be more docile and with less force,” he adds, “because, otherwise, it would be unimaginable. It would also have to be reduced in size, it will be less aggressive, less embedded, so that bullfighting will lose its meaning, and, then, it will be the torture of a poor semi-defenseless animal ”.
“The bull has changed radically,” continues Rafael Cabrera. “Perhaps, in first-class seats, he still comes out well presented, and he promptly resorts to deceit, but he has lost caste, fierceness and bravery. In the current selection, the traditional criteria are not taken into account, such as the luck of the rods, to devote preferential attention to the last third, to what is now known as the ‘durability’ of the attack, although this is silly and naughty . This is a radical change. The party is being conducted towards parameters that have not been those that have justified the existence of bullfighting. In this way, the animal has more toreability —a horrible word invented by the late Juan Pedro Domecq—, which is the opposite of aggressiveness and caste, the two basic principles of this show ”.
– Despite everything, this is a party that hooks even addiction …
– “Because it is the celebration of life, the triumph of the human being – his intelligence, technique and courage – before a totem, which is the fighting bull, which represents nature. It is the fight for survival, anchored anthropologically at the roots of the human being himself ”.
– Do you think any past time was better?
– “Any time past had better episodes, but it was not better, just like now. Bullfighting has evolved and some values have been lost. He has lost, above all, the bull, but it is no less true that the aesthetic level of many current tasks is superior to anything that our ancestors could see ”.
Rafael Cabrera does not share the concern about a dangerous interference by politicians in the bullfighting festival.
“The fan has been ignored throughout history. It is the public that sets the trend ”
“The parties are carried away by the good opinion of the people,” he believes, “and our society has changed the family for the pet, but I do not think that the current government is taking radical measures against the party. Obviously, protection laws can be repealed and replaced by others, but there would be popular sentiment, especially in the rural environment, totally against a hypothetical abolition ”.
– Do not you think, however, that the party will be what the fans want it to be?
– “That assessment seems very optimistic to me. The fan has been ignored throughout history. It is the public that sets the trend, and the evolution of the fight has largely depended on its demands. Entrepreneurs and professionals have always tried to make the fan disappear, and the media has not paid due attention to their opinions. ”
– And you are still getting excited in a bullring?
– “Yes, not assiduously, but I am excited when a bullfighter is able to apply a technical solution to a complicated bull, which does not reach the general public because, perhaps, the aesthetic component is missing. I don’t need big chores, specific details are enough for me ”.
– And your favorite bullfighters are …
– “We are on the centenary of Joselito’s death The rooster. He was always my favorite bullfighter. I have seen all the films that exist about him and I have had teachers who knew him and have conveyed the idea that Joselito was the maximum, and that today he would continue to be the same figure, because his ability was far above his peers. He was a creator, much more than Belmonte, of modern bullfighting. Later, the bullfighter of my youth was Paco Camino, a paradigmatic figure ”.
– And the future, Señor Cabrera?
– “The virus and its expansion will mark the times …”.