Spain Cancels National Bullfighting Prize

Spain has canceled its annual prize for bullfighting, sparking criticism from conservative politicians for what they see as an abandonment of a centuries-old tradition.

Bullfighting in the Spanish style, which usually ends with the killing of the animal by a sword thrust from a bullfighter, is considered a cultural tradition by its supporters, while opponents describe it as a cruel tradition with no place in modern society.

The Ministry of Culture said it made its decision to cancel the prize based on “the new social and cultural reality in Spain,” with growing concerns about animal welfare, while attendance at bullfighting arenas is declining in most cases, according to Reuters.

Culture Minister Ernesto Ortega said on the “X” platform, “There is a feeling among the majority of Spaniards that they do not understand the reasons for practicing animal torture in the country… not to mention receiving public funding for this torture.”

The National Prize took the form of a government check worth 30,000 euros (32,217 dollars) and was awarded to famous bullfighters like Julian Lopez, known as “El Juli,” or to cultural associations linked to bullfighting traditions.

Bullfighting has become a key issue in cultural conflicts in Spain recently, with left-wing parties like Podemos, to which Ortega belongs, clashing with right-wing conservatives who support this tradition.

Opposition People’s Party spokesman Borja Sempere told reporters that the government’s move showed it “does not believe in cultural diversity or freedom,” and his party would reinstate the prize if it returned to power.

The leader of the People’s Party in Aragon, Jorge Azcón, said the party planned to propose another prize. “Traditions should unite us rather than divide us.”

Opposition to bullfighting has also been growing in Latin America, where the tradition was transmitted in the sixteenth century before spreading to southern France in the nineteenth century.

In Spain, most bullfighting enthusiasts are elderly, and the number of bullfighting festivals has decreased by a third between 2010 and 2023.

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