Last week it became public knowledge that Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez didnot consider that bullfighting and cockfighting should be outlawed because they are cultural and artistic expressions of Colombians.
This verdict was addressed to the Constitutional Court that is currently studying a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the National Statue for the Protection of Animals due to its unconstitutionality. One article explicitly excludes bullfighting and cockfighting from the Statue. The plaintiff, Oscar Andrés Acosta Ramos, argues that these morbid practices “infringe the right of a person to freely develop his/her personality, the right to a sane social and cultural environment, and the duty to respect other’s rights”
The Inspectors General’s perception did not produce many shockwaves in the public opinion. This does not mean that in general people condone this “cultural expression”. The anti-bullfighting movement has become more vociferous in recent years. However, this may be because the bullfighting season is over. It is certainly a shame that there has been little to none public debate not only because of the barbarity of such activities, but because of the actual reasons given by the Inspector General and bullfighting aficionados to support this practice.
The main arguments given by Ordóñez to dismiss the lawsuit are that bullfighting and cockfighting are “Colombian cultural and artistic expressions in which cruelty against animals are therefore tolerated. These spectacles, since remote times, have contributed to the pacific coexistence of societies, given that they had permitted their members to rationally release the disconformities that have been nurtured as a consequence of the realities they had to live; moreover they have served as inspiration in the arts…”
Ordóñez is plainly stating that Colombian culture, of a Spanish legacy, is bloody and cruel, therefore it has to remain so – incidentally, Ordóñez’ also believes in preserving the culture of corruption in the government by absolving ministers and other officials. Following Ordóñez logic it may be argued that Colombia should have more bullfighting and cockfighting spectacles in order to decrease violence rather than abolish them altogether. Moreover, Fernando Botero had successful exhibitions with his paintings depicting the torture in Abu Ghraib by US servicemen, but no one is supporting a newwave of tortures so Botero gets more inspiration.
In addition to Ordóñez’ idiotic arguments another staunch defender of bullfighting, Felipe Negret, gave some rather perplexing insights recently to weekly magazine SEMANA. Negret claimed that “the fighting bull, for example, is born to die and, due to extremists [that seek to ban bullfighting], there will be an irreparable ecological damage: if there is not bullfighting, fighting bulls will disappeared” Perhaps, someone should tell Mr.Negret that he was also born to die and given that he loves bullfighting so much he would enjoy fighting properly with bulls in the running of the bulls festival in Spain. Fulfilling what nature intended for him would do a service to our gene pool, thus avoiding further evolutionary damage.
Negret also claimed to have brought his children to the bullring since they were 2 years old. Children under the age of ten need only be accompanied by an adult to enter a bullring. This just demonstrates that desensitizationto violence and cruelty in Colombia has reached epic proportions. It is difficult to change the culture of violence but abolishing these conditioning spectacles where the only excitement is watching animals painfully and slowly die, may be a first step.
Author Sebastian Castaneda is Colombian and lives in Hong Kong