The pandemic has aggravated all the weaknesses of bullfighting, such as disunity, individualism, contempt for the fan, the absence of planning and self-criticism …, and the 2021 season appears complex and decisive, as an unknown that must be resolved with renovation and a priority objective: the main squares should open their doors and offer bullfighting celebrations.
These are some of the impressions expressed by six bullfighters (fans) consulted by this blog. There are two women, Araceli Guillaume-Alonso, emeritus professor of History of Spain, and Anabel Álvarez, president of the Granada bullring, and four men: Juan Antonio Carrillo, professor of law and lawyer; Jorge Fajardo, president of the Union of Bullfighting Federations of Fans of Spain; Fran Pérez, co-director of the bullfighting magazine El Muletazo, and Gonzalo Santonja, professor at the Complutense University.
All of them have answered two questions: What lesson has the pandemic offered to the world of bullfighting? And What are the bullfighting prospects for 2021?
Here are his reflections, tinged with enormous concern and realism, and also with hope.
“Bullfighting has survived many crises in history due to its ability to adapt to society, to evolve with it,” says Araceli Guillaume-Alonso, from Bilbao.
“The party has offered weakness before a government that has only received long exchanges” (Jorge Fajardo)
This fan, who lives between Paris and Sanlúcar de Barrameda and was a herald of the April Fair in 2017, adds that in the bullfighting sector “there is a lack of unity and desire to change overly conservative, often archaic structures, and that attempts to do so they collide with an unsupportive reaction – envious? – without the fan being able to do much one way or another ”.
Jorge Fajardo believes that “the pandemic has revealed a lack of cohesion and planning in the sector to propose a solid project, and has offered a feeling of weakness before a government that has only received long exchanges.”
“The unity of the sector is essential to face the external difficulties that have arisen and will arise”, emphasizes Anabel Álvarez, who emphasizes that “the fans – the public – have once again risen to the height of the circumstances , because despite the economic difficulties and the sanitary restrictions, he has gone to the squares where the festivities have been held “, and highlights” the priceless work that the Fundación del Toro de Lidia has done so that the year does not pass in white. that would have opened an even bigger gap between society and bullfighting ”.
Fran Pérez, a Murcian from Lorca and an active fan in the networks (@frantrapiotoros), considers that “the sector lived in a bubble; He was not thinking about the future despite the fact that various sectors of the fans made him see that the party was looking over the precipice ”. “Constructive criticism did not go with the bullfighting”, he adds, “but the pandemic arrived and put them down on the ground: it was true that the bullfighting festival could end.” “Now it has been the coronavirus,” he concludes, “there is a second chance, but what if a party ban law arrives?”
Gonzalo Santonja, from Salamanca, writer and literary critic, goes beyond the world of bulls, and affirms that the virus has taught us that “we are very fragile, that any human reality lacks consistency in the face of the demons unleashed by a laboratory pandemic ”. “Right now”, he continues, “as Pedro Salinas wrote, ‘we have life on hold, everything in the air’, and a global response would be necessary to put an end to the uncontrolled developmentalism that has led us here”.
The round is finished by the Sevillian Juan Antonio Carrillo, renowned jurist and committed fan, who makes the following reflection: “I believe that the pandemic has accelerated and aggravated the weaknesses of bullfighting. It is symptomatic that the majority of workers and companies in the cultural industry have been supported with compensatory measures during the pandemic, and that it has been rejected to do so with respect to bullfighting. It is an implicit (when it does not express) denial of the cultural character of the bullfighting ”. “It could be said,” he continues, “that the position of the Constitutional Court in defense of bullfighting as a cultural manifestation has not permeated the Executive.” “What for the Law, today, is culture, is not for the majority in parliament,” says Carrillo, “and of course, it has become a politically incorrect matter, which greatly precarious the legal condition of the feast as intangible cultural heritage, which unfortunately runs a serious risk of being a condition revoked.
What are the prospects for the 2021 season? This was the second question posed to the fans.
Carrillo himself, from his legal vision of the festival, points out that “the only way I envision to maintain bullfighting in Spain is to become aware from within that we are a highly questioned cultural minority, and defend our right against abolition from that point on. position, that of minority law. Legally it is a much more solid starting point than the claim to expand the declaration of intangible cultural property from national laws or from UNESCO, which will never recognize bullfighting as such ”.
“The future is a great unknown, but I would like to imagine that the traumatic experience of this year can serve to modernize minds and uses,” says Araceli Guillaume. “You don’t have to look back; and we must remain firmer than ever in our hobby, without complexes or victimizations ”.
“What for the Law, today, is culture, is not for the majority in parliament” (Juan A. Carrillo)
Jorge Fajardo, for his part, raises what he calls “a serious renewal” that bets on supporting grassroots bullfighting and renews the long-standing ranks; encourage the bullfights, pursue the integrity of the bull and, “of course, count on the opinion of the fans.” “Difficult times are coming”, he concludes, “but the continuity of this great festival is in the hands of the bullfighting estates”.
“I am optimistic, although it will be a complex season, and I also believe that it will be decisive for bullfighting,” says the president of the Granada bullring, Anabel Álvarez.
She is shown as a fervent supporter of organizing bullfighting festivities, “and that all the protagonists commit to a goal above their own interests.”
“Either urgent questions are faced decisively or there will be no future,” says Gonzalo Santonja. In his opinion, “the squares cannot remain closed (and even less those of reference), the public administrations have to renounce unaffordable specifications, some businessmen speak more than they do (and, above all, they record the one who does), the bullfighters of the top of the ladder should be measured in the example of Ponce, and it is essential that the crews adapt their claims to a waning reality. “I see the year between desperate hope and uncertainty,” he concludes.
Finally, Fran Pérez agrees that it is essential to reactivate the festival, that the large squares once again offer bulls and offer news. “If 2020 has taught us anything,” he insists, “it is that there are bullfighters called to renew the ranks’vintage“Current – there are the cases of Juan Ortega or Gómez del Pilar, for example – and, furthermore, it is necessary to revive the festival in the towns, with shows according to the level of their squares.”
The Murcian fan also advocates that the prices of the localities are reasonable and that the party return “moderately” to open television.
“Unfortunately, I have little confidence in the bullfighting sector,” he ends, “and from what we are learning, it seems that there will be little change. There is the example of the Plaza de Granada: they have granted the exploitation to a powerful family of ranchers and businessmen who a few years ago were fined because they shaved the bulls that were fought in that same plaza.