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Colombia congress passes bill banning bullfighting

Colombia’s congress passed a bill Tuesday banning bullfighting, a controversial yet popular pastime in the South American country.

A man dressed as a bull attends a protest against bullfighting outside the Colombian Congress building in Bogota on May 7, 2024
A man dressed as a bull attends a protest against bullfighting outside the Colombian Congress building in Bogota on May 7, 2024 - Copyright AFP/File Raul ARBOLEDA
A man dressed as a bull attends a protest against bullfighting outside the Colombian Congress building in Bogota on May 7, 2024 - Copyright AFP/File Raul ARBOLEDA

Colombia’s congress passed a bill Tuesday banning bullfighting, a controversial yet popular pastime in the South American country with hundreds of events drawing thousands of spectators every year.

If approved by leftist President Gustavo Petro, who has in the past supported restrictions on bullfighting, the ban will come into effect in 2027.

The lower house gave the bill the green light with a 93-2 vote.

“Obviously, bullfighters will sue,” said Colombian Senator Andrea Padilla, in a post on X, calling the decision a “historic step.” 

“We will be there to defend it!” she added.

The law would bring Colombia in line with other countries in the region that have banned bullfighting, including Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Guatemala.

Leading up to 2027, the state would be required to help find alternative employment options for the tens of thousands of people estimated to depend directly or indirectly on bullfighting for their income.

It would also have to adapt the country’s arenas for other sporting and cultural activities.

In 2018, the Constitutional Court recognized bullfights as part of Colombia’s cultural tradition.

But the capital Bogota — one of the oldest bullfighting cities in the Americas — since outlawed the injuring or killing of bulls, removing the goriest part of the spectacle in what it hoped would eventually bring an end to the blood sport.

The city of Medellin has also imposed restrictions, but bullfighting remains popular in cities like Cali and Manizales.

Colombia is one of only eight countries in the world where bullfights are still held — which are Ecuador, France, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain and Venezuela.  

In Ecuador’s capital Quito, it is prohibited to kill the bull.

Bullfighter Johan Andres Paloma, 22, told AFP ahead of the vote that he was “proud” of his calling, which he described as “a symbol of identity” for many Colombians.

AFP
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