Young bullfighter in the ring in Texcoco. Young bullfighter in the ring in Texcoco.

Children fight bulls despite prohibition

UN committee calls it child labor but young bullfighters see it as fulfillment of a dream

Children fighting in the bullring is seen on one hand as an odious form of child labor. On the other it can be the fulfillment of a dream.

But the fact is that municipal and state governments throughout Mexico are violating an observation issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 17 months ago, which described children participating in bullfights as “one of the worst forms of child labor.”

In June 2015 the CRC asked the Mexican government to adopt measures to enforce the prohibition of children from participating in bullfights, in both training and performance.

The UN observation concluded by expressing the hope that the measures would help “raise awareness with regard to the physical and mental violence associated with bullfighting.”

Complying with observations issued by the CRC is mandatory for all UN member nations.

But the young bullfighters themselves, and their parents, have a different view.

“We will continue. I will defend my son’s dream like any other mother would do if her son wanted to be a soccer player, or a swimmer or to practice karate. My son wants to be a bullfighter and I will support him,” said Elsa Guadalupe Enríquez, mother of Alejandro “El Castelita” Moreno.

“We’ve received many attacks from people opposed to bullfighting, they call us killers at the bullrings and on social media. They have yelled at my son, calling him an assassin, but children only ‘fight’ calves without mistreating them,” she explained.

Enríquez asserted that the formation of child bullfighters promotes values such as respect and discipline, requires constant physical training and keeps them away from violence.

Moreno’s uncle observed that bullfighting is a risky activity, “as are other sports like football, boxing or soccer.”

Emiliano Osornio, 13, has been a bullfighter for five years.

“It makes me feel something I don’t know how to explain. I get scared and anxious, and feel a passion when I’m there with the bull . . . Everybody has their rights, and I feel that people opposed to bullfights violate our privacy,” he told the newspaper Milenio.

A Tijuana-based animal rights advocacy group has filed several complaints before local human rights commissions against bullfighting in states including Mexico City, Yucatán, Jalisco, Michoacán, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Tlaxcala and Nuevo León.

As was the case when the group filed a complaint against an event last Saturday in Texcoco, little or nothing happens as a result.

The organizers in Texcoco said their event could not be suspended because bullfighting fans had been inside the bullring since the early hours.

“Competent authorities have failed in protecting the minors’ rights,” said representatives of the group in reference to the UN’s recommendation, which prohibits either “active or passive participation” of minors in bullfights.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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