As protesters demonstrated in front of a packed arena, bullfights resumed Sunday in Mexico City.
The return to the capital comes after Mexico’s highest court temporarily revoked a local ruling that had sided with animal rights activists and suspended the events for more than a year and a half.
The resumption of bullfights on Plaza Mexico, the largest bullfighting arena in the world, has given hope to supporters in the face of a legal battle.
Bullfighting is still allowed in much of Mexico, but in the capital it is fighting for its future. Opponents argue that this practice violates animal welfare and infringes on people’s right to a healthy environment.
Thousands of people applauded the return of the “fiesta brava”, as bullfighting is also called in Spanish. “Long live freedom,” some shouted as the first bull entered an arena crowded with spectators.
The first bullfighter to enter the ring was the famous Mexican matador Joselito Adame. Six bulls were fought on Sunday. All were killed.
Outside, hours before the event began, around 300 people gathered in front of Plaza Mexico to protest.
Some activists shouted “Massassins!” » and “The place is going to fall!” Others played drums or held signs reading “Bullfighting is Sadism.”
Police armed with shields were there. The protest was mostly peaceful, although there were some tense moments when some activists threw plastic bottles and stones.
In May 2022, a local court ordered an end to bullfighting activities in Plaza Mexico in response to an injunction brought by the human rights civil organization Justicia Justa. But the country’s Supreme Court revoked the stay in December while the merits of the case are discussed and a decision is made on whether bullfights affect animal welfare.
Another civil organization filed an appeal on Friday on animal welfare grounds in a last-ditch effort to prevent the activity from resuming, but no decision was made in time.
Animal rights groups have gained ground in Mexico in recent years, while bullfighting enthusiasts have suffered several setbacks. In states like Sinaloa, Guerrero, Coahuila, Quintana Roo and Guadalajara, legal measures now limit activity.
Ranchers, business owners and supporters say the ban affects their rights and puts several thousand jobs at risk. Bullfighting is said to generate around $400 million a year.
The National Association of Fighting Bull Breeders of Mexico estimates that bullfighting generates 80,000 direct jobs and 146,000 indirect jobs.
The association has organized events and workshops in recent years to promote bullfighting and find new, younger fans.