The regional parliament in Barcelona has passed into law a resolution to ban bullfighting in Catalonia. The result of the vote was 68 in favor of the ban, 55 against and nine absentions. A few hundred less bulls will die in the region because of the ruling, but what were the real motives behind the ban?
See also: Book a Non-Violent Bullfight Just Outside Barcelona (book direct)
The move comes after years of opposition in the region, where the animal rights case has been mixed in with Catalan nationalism as the region attempts to distance itself from the rest of Spain. The separatists have used the emotive case of bullfighting to get international attention for the 'plight' of the 'repressed' Catalan nation. Anti-bullfighting campaigns in Catalonia are always accompanied by Catalan flags.
So what has been the result of the ban? Has the animal rights situation in the region improved? A little. These bulls will no longer die in each year in bullfights, but many others will continue to suffer in the similar bous al carrer ('bulls in the street') and, indeed, in the many substandard abattoirs in the region.
So what's the difference between the bous al carrer and bullfighting? The former is 'Catalan', the latter is 'Spanish'; the former won't make the front pages of newspapers around the world, the latter will.
Catalonia is a region where its anachronistic independence struggle (illogical and irrelevant in a border-free Europe) blurs the boundaries between political causes to such an extent that it is difficult to see exactly what Catalans stand for, apart from less taxes going to Madrid. Catalonia is a region where the communist party has a hammer and sickle on top of a Catalan flag (that is to say, a nationalist/communist oxymoron, which even a high-school politics student will know is contradictory). Rebellion for the sake of rebellion: coherent political stances are optional.
Of course, it's not just the Catalans that use nationalism in the bullfighting debate. Spanish nationalists support bullfighting not out of a Hemmingway-esque love of the practice, but because it is 'Spanish' to be in favor of it. In fact, the two sides are so similar in their arguments and behaviour, why don't they just share a nation and stop arguing about it?
The law will come into force on January 1, 2012. In the meantime, is it right to see a bullfight in Barcelona where the practice is no longer welcome (for whatever reason)? Read more on Things NOT to Do in Barcelona.