September 19, 2020

Tragicomic history of the bullfighting of the fair in Alcalá de Henares | Blog The bull, by the horns


Manuel Martínez Erice affirms that he and his partner, Jorge Arellano, have invested more than 40,000 euros in the suspended bullfighting fair in Alcalá de Henares, and that they do not know if the Community of Madrid will refund that money for good or they should go to the courts.

Not used to managing third-category places, he acknowledges his deep concern when the date of the fair approached and they still did not have the official authorization, although his environment gave him tranquility “because this is normal in the villages.”

And he is still very angry with the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, although he represses his anger in the interests of a friendly solution to the conflict.

Manuel Martínez Erice is a Basque of singular size, born in San Sebastián, who says he does not know what he has done wrong to live in Madrid (“it’s a joke”, he clarifies); Bullfighting by family and vocation, son of José Antonio Martínez Uranga, both were Las Ventas businessmen from 2004 to 2016. Today, on the other end of the phone, he speaks torrentially about the events that occurred on the occasion of the Alcalá de Henares fair, and what he does with a mixture of naive sincerity, disgust, and firmness. Reasons are not lacking.

“If there is no amicable repair, we will go to court” (Martínez Erice)

The facts are known. Willing to revitalize the Plaza de Alcalá, privately owned and closed for five years, Martínez Erice and Arellano decide to organize a fair on August 28, 29 and 30, consisting of a bullfight, a rejoneo celebration and a clippings show . On August 12, they request the corresponding authorization from the Community of Madrid; They decided to put 65% of the capacity up for sale despite the fact that it was allowed to reach up to 75%, and on August 26 they received the permit that gave free rein to the fair. Simultaneously, the socialist mayor of the town starts a public campaign against the bullfighting fair and asks for its cancellation for health reasons. On the 27th, with the bulls of the first celebration already in the corrals, the Madrid Government suspends the fair “for reasons of prudence” in the face of the pandemic.

The company issues a statement in which it expresses its feeling of helplessness, qualifies the events as an “outrage”, and includes severe criticism of the Madrid president and the local mayor. But the damage was already done, the investment made and the doors of the square are closed again.

“We are still quantifying the invoices, and although they have recommended me not to talk about amounts, I can tell you that we have invested more than 40,000 euros in setting up the fair,” says Martínez Erice. “But there is another important section, the amount of which I do not know, which is the remodeling of the building in the square, which has paid for the property, and which has practically left it for the first time.” We ask him:

Question. Is there a friendly redress mechanism or is the only way to go to court?

Jorge Arellano and Manuel Martínez Erice (on the right), bullfighting businessmen.
Jorge Arellano and Manuel Martínez Erice (on the right), bullfighting businessmen.

Reply. Sincerely I dont know. A friend who advises me on business matters has recommended that I go to the Community and try to find a friendly formula. I would love for it to be like that. I think politicians have the tools to deal with these problems. But if there is no way out, we will file a lawsuit in court. We have that very clear.

P. Well, you have been very severe and energetic in your criticism of the president of the Community …

R. It’s just that I’m very, very angry, and I think with good reason.

P. I am telling you this because if you intend to reach a friendly agreement …

“The mayor is the cause of the problem, but the one responsible is the Community of Madrid”

R. You won’t believe me, but you are reading my mind. A few days ago, I wrote a text of the type ‘open letter to the president’, in which I say very hard things, out of respect, of course. I implore her, for example, not to help me, and I accuse her of being the biggest anti-bullfighting player in Spain. But, of course, I am not going to spread it, precisely so as not to add fuel to the fire and facilitate dialogue.

P. You will agree that the winner in this conflict has been the mayor.

R. The mayor of Alcalá de Henares has had a lot to do with this matter, of course. He set out to end the fair and he has succeeded. Goal accomplished. He has acted as an opposition politician, who is also anti-bullfighting. But the one who has failed us has been the Community. The mayor lit the wick, but whoever had the hose did not want to use it. The mayor is the cause of the problem, but not the person responsible. The regional government had the power to go forward, but it was scared.

“Defend bullfighting,” he insists. “And I say it in that letter that it will not see the light, it is not taking a photo in the arena of Las Ventas saying ‘I am a bullfighter’; it is truly defending it and resisting political pressure ”.

Question. Anyway, one question remains. You started working in Alcalá two months ago; They do not request authorization until August 12, which does not arrive until the 26th. That is, they invest and work without knowing if the fair could be held.

Reply. I, too, have asked myself that same question for the past fifteen days. But, apparently, that’s how it works in these small towns. I said to my partner: ‘But how can you be so calm if we are on August 22 and we don’t know anything about the Community?’ always a couple of days before. ‘ Sure, it will be usual in a normal situation, but in the current circumstances it is logical that he would be restless. In fact, I spoke several times with the manager and he assured me that everything was going well and that the file was not closed until the 25th. In other words, it was the Community that was delayed. However, I did not understand how we could continue working if we did not have the desired permission, but that is the operating formula in this country; at least, in the bullfighting theme and in the minor fairs.

[Llegó, por fin, el permiso el día 26, y la suspensión veinticuatro horas después…].

R. Do you know what makes me angry? That the mayor boasted of his triumph on social networks and made fun of the Popular Party. And he agreed with us, believing that in this way he would attack the government with more force. ‘Poor businessmen’, he said, ‘you have to see the damage they have caused, there is no right …

P. The only thing left is that the Madrid president does not take her anger the wrong way and accepts a negotiated solution.

R. I hope so.

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