By Juan Sebastián Basto Hernández (2nd semester undergraduate FIGRI student, level 4 English)
The bull, symbol of courage and tenacity, is subjected to a degrading and painful spectacle. The animal is prepared: vaseline is rubbed into his eyes and needles are stuck into his genitals, with the final purpose of getting him into the bullring weak and disoriented, facilitating the "slaughter" of the matador. Once the bullfight starts, the “picador”, knocks lances into the bull’s back, in order to cause intense pain in the neck of the animal that prevents it from looking up. Then the assistant matadors introduce the “banderillas” into the wound. Every movement of the bull is a martyrdom. Finally, the bull bleeds to death. The animal falls to the ground and the matador thrusts a “puntilla”, a wound that does not kill him, but leaves him conscious even if paralyzed. The bull is dragged out of the arena, and the audience stands and applauds. The work of art that they came to witness has finished.
The most outrageous thing of all is that Colombia is the scene of this cruel spectacle, disguised under the name of art and culture. Our country is one of the eight countries in the world that allows bullfighting and other practices that harm animals. This is because violence is part of our culture. We need to change that, because culture cannot be more important than animal rights, and we have to make people aware that they are watching a barbaric act and not a cultural one. This can be achieved through campaigns against animal violence.
As Ricardo Fajardo and Alexandra Cárdenas express in their book Animal Rights: “In Colombia, justice has been defined by the set of existing roles of human relationships throughout history. Unfortunately, the base of this history has been subordination. This started with black people, when the Spaniards colonized our territory, and continued with women and ethnic minorities. While this process has seen continuous fights for equality and recognition of rights, man has forgotten his closest cousin: the animal.”
To get an idea about animal rights in Colombia, just consult our constitution, where these rights are not even named or recognized. This contrasts with the constitution of other countries such as Germany, in which the state has the obligation to ensure the rights and protection of animals.
The mistreatment of bulls in Colombia is legitimized through Article 7 of Act 84 of 1989 corresponding to the National Statute of Protection of Animals. In this article, numerous behaviors that harm animals are authorized, and these behaviors are considered to be cultural and artistic expressions that identify us as Colombians, which makes the suffering of these living beings tolerable.
Above all, this law completely contradicts the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights, which provides basic and logical principles of animal protection in its articles 10 and 11: "No animal should be used for entertainment. Animal exhibitions and shows that use animals are incompatible with animals’ dignity. Every action that causes the unnecessary death of an animal is a crime against life."
Bullfighting is a grotesque and violent spectacle in which people feel satisfaction witnessing the death of an animal. Unfortunately, Colombia is the scene of this slaughter and the law protects it, considering it to be a cultural and artistic expression that identifies us as Colombians. It is clear that the only way to eradicate this violence is to reform the law, something that would not only constitute a benefit for the animals, which are the ones really affected by this practice, but would also be progress for the Colombian nation. As Thomas A. Edison said, “until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."