Monday, June 24, 2024

With a last-minute injunction, judge bans bullfighting at San Cristóbal fair

Bullfighting events at an annual fair in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, that’s over a century old were banned Sunday by a judge, hours before the first bullfighting event was due to begin.

A judge in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez ordered the provisional suspension of the blood sport at the Spring and Peace fair in San Cristóbal after complaints were filed by a local activist group, Animalix Alma Mestiza (Mixed-Breed Souls). Erika Brand, director of the group, said that the decision represented not only a victory for local animals but also for the municipality. 

The fair will continue despite the absence of bullfights, said San Cristóbál’s mayor, Mariano Díaz Ochoa. (Chiapas Viajes)

“We hope that this [ruling] represents a clear message to the rest of the country that it is time to put an end to this cruel and archaic practice,” she said in a statement. 

San Cristóbal Mayor Mariano Alberto Díaz Ochoa said that the city will abide by the ruling, although he added that the municipal council, which owns the La Coleta bullring where the bullfights were to take place, has filed an appeal.

“The protection of the environment and animals is always welcome, but that is not what this is about,” Díaz said, suggesting that “third parties” and “particular interests” were behind the decision to suspend bullfighting. 

The fair, which is taking place for the 153rd time this year, started yesterday and runs until April 16. It was due to see appearances by the rejoneador (a mounted, lance-wielding bullfighter) Fauro Aloi, matador José María Pastor, and another matador who goes by simply Jussef. 

Bullfighting is only one part of the fair, which also features Chiapas cuisine and local artisan products for sale. Nevertheless, some residents of the city expressed disappointment by the decision to pause bullfighting, which they see as an important cultural expression of the region. 

Local businessman Enrique Solis was among them: he expressed sadness that the festival would no longer feature bullfighting — although he also said he was sure that the injunction would be lifted before the end of the festival, according to local news channel 7 de Chiapas.

“We are going to comply with the court order that declares [the fight] suspended,” he said. “We do not want to provoke acts of violence at this fair.”

Despite the suspension, the festival will continue “with or without bulls,” Díaz told the newspaper El Universal. 

It remains to be seen what will come of a second round of bullfighting scheduled for the upcoming weekend. 

With reporting by El Universal, El Heraldo de Chiapas and 7 de Chiapas

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