Colombia: Government passes bill to ban bullfighting

Colombia’s Congress has passed a bill to ban bullfighting nationwide starting in 2027, marking the culmination of a longstanding campaign by animal rights activists who argue the practice is inhumane. Bullfighting, introduced by the Spanish during colonial times, became a popular spectacle in Colombia, attracting large crowds to bullrings in cities like Bogotá, Medellín, and Manizales.

The bill awaits the signature of President Gustavo Petro, who has expressed his support for the ban, making his approval a formality. Following the bill’s passage, President Petro tweeted that “those who enjoy the death of animals will end up enjoying the death of human beings, just as those who burn books, end up burning human beings.”

Opponents of the ban argue it will harm those whose livelihoods depend on bullfighting, including breeders and street vendors. To address these concerns, the bill includes a three-year transition period during which individuals connected to the bullfighting industry will receive assistance in finding alternative sources of income. The legislation also stipulates that bullrings will be repurposed for cultural and sporting events.

Colombia joins a growing list of Latin American countries that have banned bullfighting. Argentina, Cuba, and Uruguay prohibited the practice over a century ago, and similar bans are in place in Brazil and Chile. Conversely, bullfighting remains legal in Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Notably, Mexico City imposed a ban in 2022, which was overturned two years later, drawing more than 40,000 spectators to the first bullfight held in the city’s bullring, the world’s largest, since the ban was lifted.

In Europe, bullfighting continues in France and Spain, though some cities have enacted local bans.

Bullfighting, a controversial and deeply rooted tradition, is prevalent in several Latin American nations, most notably Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. Originating from Spain, this cultural practice was brought to the Americas during the colonial era and has since evolved, incorporating regional styles and customs. In these countries, bullfighting is not merely a sport but a ceremonial event rich with historical significance, often coinciding with local festivals and celebrations. Despite its cultural importance, bullfighting faces increasing opposition due to concerns about animal cruelty and changing societal values. Movements advocating for animal rights have gained traction, leading to bans and restrictions in certain areas, highlighting a growing tension between preserving tradition and embracing modern ethical standards.

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