Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Court grants injunction to suspend bullfights at Zacatecas fair

Late last month, a cool, animated poster for the upcoming Zacatecas state fair in Zacatecas city was unveiled, featuring a colorful matador moving his cape and an angry-looking bull raking the ground with his hooves. An accompanying poster listed details about the 10 bullfights scheduled at the 12,000-capacity Plaza de Toros Monumental during the Sept. 3–18 fair. 

Those posters will likely be coming down now after the Second District Court in Zacatecas granted an environmental organization an injunction on Monday to provisionally shelve the series.

The court decision ruled in favor of a coalition lawsuit that asserted that fighting bulls experience “pain and suffering” that includes “increased heart rate, hypertension, hyperventilation, sweating and stress and muscle stiffness,” among other discomforts. The lawsuit listed in detail how the bull is pummeled and penetrated with spears and swords, eventually suffering paralysis and death.

All of this is “incompatible or irreconcilable with [people’s] right to a healthy environment,” provided for in article 4 of the Mexican Constitution, “to the detriment of the people who inhabit the state of Zacatecas,” the court’s ruling noted.

Governor of Zacatecas visiting bullfighting ring in Zacatecas city
Despite Monday’s ruling, bullfighting clearly has support in the state: Governor David Monreal Ávila supervised remodeling at the Plaza de Toros Monumental in June. Government of Zacatecas

The Zacatecas decision follows several similar rulings across Mexico in recent months: in Mexico City in June, a judge turned a provisional suspension of bullfights at Plaza México into a definitive ban. And just last week, organizers of an apple fair in Zacatlán, Puebla, called off an August 20 bullfight following protests by citizens and a district court ruling against the event, the newspaper Urbano Pueblo reported.

That decision came despite Puebla’s governor Luis Miguel Barbosa Huerta speaking out against banning bullfights and cockfights in June, “considering them to be part of the national culture.” Also in June, the Mexican Supreme Court invalidated a Nayarit decree that gave bullfights and cockfights intangible cultural heritage status.

In the Zacatecas case, animal rights organizations and other activists, led by the Civil Association of the National Anticorruption Collective (Colecna), filed a lawsuit when it became known that the Feria de Zacatecas would resume this year after two years off due to the pandemic and would include bullfighting. 

Bullfighting is popular in Zacatecas. In April, the state Congress voted to add bullfights and cockfights as “intangible cultural heritage” in its cultural heritage law, according to the newspaper El Sol de Zacatecas. “… and in the fields of Zacatecas, there is a presence of some of the best ranches in Mexico,” the paper added, alluding to the quality of bulls that would have been involved. 

Last year, although there was no fair, there were two bullfights in the city’s Plaza Monumental in July, with a capacity of 1,500 people and COVID-19 protocols enforced.

A court-scheduled hearing on Aug. 29 will give organizers of the Zacatecas fair an opportunity to speak. But the newspaper La Jornada called it an “incidental hearing,” at which the suspension will be finalized.

With reports from La Jornada and El Sol de Zacatecas

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