Decades ago, when my family took their very first package holiday, we visited the island of Mallorca. The resort reps, then as now paid not very much, pushed a range of excursions – for which, as ever, they earned a commission – to enable us to see more of the island. And that range included the bullfight.
We didn’t take them up on that one. And the supposed spectacle of the bullfight has declined over time, with some Spanish regions having little interest in it: the bull ring in the Canarian city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife had fallen into disuse by the late 80s, and it was no surprise when the Canaries banned bullfighting in 1991.
Then, last year, the city of Viana do Castelo in northern Portugal – a country where killing bulls in the ring is forbidden – banned bullfighting, with the city’s bull ring slated for demolition and redevelopment. I was not surprised: the bull ring in northern Lisbon was closed for some years recently, and is only a viable proposition through the addition of more of those “retail opportunities”.
So when the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia, in a free vote, banned bullfighting yesterday, it was hardly a shock. The decline of bullfighting – the province’s only functioning bull ring is in Barcelona – and the move by Catalans to demonstrate independence of mind, have come together to end the practice.
The next of Spain’s autonomous regions to ban bullfighting may be Galicia. One to watch.