Vote on proposed bullfighting ban in Spanish region of Catalonia is delayed
MADRID — Spaniards fighting to save bullfighting won a reprieve Monday as lawmakers in the powerful Catalonia region decided to hold off on a vote to ban the cultural pillar that opponents consider cruel to animals.
A vote in the wealthy region around Barcelona had been scheduled for Wednesday, and there were signs that the deadly duel of toreador and beast could be outlawed on the grounds that it is cruel.
There appears to be less concern over matadors, one of whom, Julio Aparicio, survived a hellish goring last month in which a bull's horn punctured his throat right above the Adam's apple and came out his mouth.
But the Catalan regional parliament said Monday that the vote has been delayed because the center-right Popular Party requested a ruling from a legal advisory body on whether such a move would violate Spain's constitution or the charter that gives Catalonia a large degree of self-rule. The advisory body now has a month to issue a ruling.
Many Catalans consider themselves a country within a country, with their own language and substantial self-rule. For many people there the idea of banning bullfighting is as much about rejecting something that smacks of traditional Spain as it about protecting animals from death by sword.
If it approves the bill, Catalonia would become the second Spanish region to ban bullfighting. The Canary Islands, off Morocco's coast, did so in 1991.
The bill began last year as a petition by grassroots activists who collected 180,000 signatures, more than enough to force the regional legislature to take up the proposed ban.
The local branches of Spain's two main parties -- Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialists and the Popular Party -- oppose the ban. Supporting it are a small Catalan pro-independence party and an ecologically based party.
The final tally will apparently be decided by the region's traditionally dominant party -- Convergence and Union -- a Catalan nationalist coalition that is center-right and pro-business but also a fervent supporter of the distinct Catalan identity. The party says it will allow its members to vote their conscience on banning bullfighting.
RELATED BULLFIGHTING STORIES:
Lawmakers in Spanish region of Catalonia consider banning bullfights
Artesia bullfight brings wrath of animal welfare group (2009 story by metro reporter Carla Hall)
-- Daniel Woolls, Associated Press
Photo: Matador Daniel Luque performs a pass during a bullfight at a Granada bullfighting ring on June 4. Credit: Pepe Marin / Reuters