A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.


Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

Tijuana lawyer hopes to see bullfighting
become a world intangible cultural heritage asset

Although bullfighting recently was named
one of France's intangible cultural riches,
it is unlikely to be given such international status

3 women to peform at Tijuana bullring Sunday

Movements to outlaw bullfighting are violations of the human rights of bullfight fans, a Tijuana lawyer who heads a national bullfighting fan organization in Mexico says.

ricardo zuritaRicardo Zurita (right) of the Contoromex association of bullfighting fan clubs said that if bullfighting is going to be outlawed on the grounds of animal cruelty, then the eating of all meat should also be banned. contoromex


Zurita, who called bullfighting an art during a talk last week in Tijuana to the Madrugadores group, said he hoped to get the Mexican government to push for bullfighting to be considered a world cultural heritage treasure.

The United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has asked governments to come up with lists of their intangible cultural heritage assets. France, which has brigitte bardota strong bullfighting tradition in its south, listed bullfighting as one of its many cultural riches in April. This caused an outpouring of criticism, not the least of which came from animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot (right).

While many interpreted the French action as a move toward making bullfighting a world heritage asset, this apparently is not the case. While Zurita said he was 99% sure UNESCO would make bullfighting a world cultural heritage asset, this does not appear likely, in part because of the furor it would cause. France is not pushing for world heritage status for bullfighting; bullfighting merely was part of a long list of France's own intangible cultural heritage assets.

France Today said the French Culture Ministry said "there was no intention to propose bullfighting for inclusion on UNESCO's Intangible Heritage list," as was done for French cuisine. French gastronomy was put on the UNESCO list last year.

Zurita gave his audience a history of bullfighting in Mexico, starting with the first corrida de toros on June 24, 1526.

He termed the Catalonia region's recent ban on bullfighting as more of a political statement against Spain than a strongly felt defense of animal rights.
Story about what may be the last corrida de toros in Barcelona.

Zurita argued that bullfighting bulls, unlike animals killed for food, get to die fighting for their lives.

Los Angeles story of Aug. 25 about tradition of Portuguese bloodless bullfighting in California.

Zurita made repeated references to the Spanish bullfighter Manolete, who died 64 years ago Monday after being gored. Many consider him to be the greatest bullfighter of all time. Zurita said the 2007 movie "Manolete" starring Penelope Cruz and Adrian Brodie will be shown at 9 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Cultural Institute of Baja California, with admission free. It will follow the 7 p.m. showing of the 1949 film "Currito de la Cruz."

Zurita, who spoke after state Education Minister Javier Santillán opted out of his appearance with the Madrugadores, did not have kind words about the maintenance of Tijuana's bullring by the sea.

Bullfighting has contributed to Tijuana's culture in more ways than one. The Playas de Tijuana cultural center originally was a building used to train bullfighters, including the first female professional, Raquel Martinez. Martinez, who recently served as an official at a bullfight at the bullring by the sea, will be honored at the last bullfight of the season Sept. 4.

Indeed, three female bullfighters will perform that day, Mary Paz Vega, Hilda Tenorio and Lupita López. It will be the first time three female bullfighters have performed on the same day in Tijuana, El Mexicano reports.
Update, Sept. 3: El Mexicano interviews López and Tenorio. In its photo of López, it calls her "guapita hasta decir olé" (so pretty you want to say olé).

Zurita said many place names and streets in Tijuana have to do with bullfighting and bullfighters. He said Lomas Taurinas, the neighborhood where presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was killed in 1994, was one of example of this.

Update, Sept. 5: Protest held against bullfighting outside bullring.
Story on the three female bullfighters' day in the ring.

Update, Jan. 27, 2012: Tijuana city council debates whether minors should be allowed to attend bullfights. Story, Frontera (PDF).

Update, Feb. 5: Various groups back move to not allow minors to attend bullfights in Tijuana, El Mexicano reports.

Update, Feb. 6: Demonstrators strip in Mexico City to protest bullfighting. Story, photo, Frontera (PDF).

Update, Feb. 9: Zurita is re-elected president of Contoromex, El Mexicano reports. PDF).

Update, Feb. 11: Humane Society de Tijuana and Voluntary Association for Protection and Care of Animals call for banning children from attending bullfights. Story, Frontera (PDF), which calls the first group the Human Society.

Update, Nov. 4, 2012: Two-thirds of Baja Californians oppose bullfighting, poll says.

Update, July 15, 2013: Tijuana councilman laments that motion to ban minors from attending bullfights lost by one vote.