Dance with death, final act

Former bullfighter Óscar Higares used to lure bulls to death in Monumental arena of Barcelona. Now he had come there to say goodbye to bullfighting in Catalonia – with 20 000 other enthusiastic followers. “I feel abysmal sadness”, he confessed while observing the last bullfight to begin, ending a tradition that had gone on for nearly 700 years. “We want to decide for ourselves the future of what we love”, Higares pleaded, with the audience shouting for freedom. Catalonia is the first region in continental Spain to ban bullfights. Animal rights campaigners celebrated the day with sparkling wine. But it is hardly the regulation that is killing off the bullfights. The spectacle had survived even the Spanish civil war when the prestigious fighting bulls were eaten during the famine. But it may not survive the lack of audience and interest. While the official Spain and part of the intellectuals defend bullfighting as an art form, condemning any ban as censorship, 60 percent of Spaniards say they are against bullfights.
Published in Helsingin Sanomat in 2011.

photo by stefano buonamici