ENTREVISTA A PERÚ ANTITAURINO EN UNO DE LOS DIARIOS MÁS IMPORTANTES DE EE.UU.
Many protest bullfighting in Peru
BY BARBARA R. DRAKE
Special to The Miami Herald
Special to The Miami Herald
LIMA -- Dapper in a gray suit and cap, Wencelao Espino Gonzales gazed at the pink walls of this capital city's historic Plaza de Acho -- the second oldest bullring in the world -- and explained his lifelong passion for bullfighting.
''It is a spectacle of energy and movement,'' Gonzales, 83, said on a recent Saturday. ``Like a ballet between the torero and the bull. The most important moment is the kill.''
Aficionados like Espino Gonzales flock to the 242-year-old Plaza de Acho each October and November for one of the premier bullfighting events in Latin America. But in the last several years, the Acho bullfights have been drawing another crowd: young anti-bullfighting activists, known as ''antitaurinos'' in Spanish.
''Bullfighting is a cruel and barbaric spectacle that has no place in modern Peru,'' said Roger Torres Pando, 25, national coordinator for Perú Antitaurino, an alliance of 20 animal-rights groups. "It's not an art or a sport; it's an extreme form of cruelty to animals. It must be banned.''
Plaza de Acho -- built 17 years after the Maestranza bullring in Seville, Spain -- is the controversial site for the bullfight feasts of el Señor de los Milagros (the Lord of the Miracles).
The festival, which runs through Sunday, lures top toreros from Spain and Latin America who compete before as many as 14,000 spectators, many from Lima's wealthy elite.
Since 2004, Perú Antitaurino has staged four series of protests at Acho, a few marred by violent confrontations.
In October 2007, activists insulted bullfighters and spectators entering the stadium, prompting police to use tear gas.
Winds blew the tear gas into the bullring, temporarily blinding audience members and torero Vicente Barrera, who had to pause the fight.
In protests earlier this month as the first corrida of the Señor de los Milagros festival got under way, about 300 activists rallied at Lima's downtown Plaza San Martin as riot police stood guard.
''Bullfighters are cowards and assassins!'' yelled the protesters, an assortment of college students, artists and actors, most in their early 20s. ``Enough of the torture!''
''Shame on the silence of the Catholic Church,'' read one placard. ``Life is life. Respect it!''
Unlike in Spain and other European countries with an animal rights history, Peru's antitaurino movement is in its infancy, with an older generation clinging to traditions from the colonial past. But the movement is growing.
''Four years ago, we had about 100 activists in our alliance. Now we have about 2,000,'' Torres Pando said of Perú Antitaurino.
The average antitaurino is 20, said the organizer. With Peru's median age 25, that makes the activists contemporary with much of the population.
''Most Peruvians think that bullfighting is wrong,'' said Torres Pando, pointing to a recent University of Lima study of residents in the capital city and in neighboring Callao that shows a wide majority -- 79.7 percent -- oppose bullfighting, while 18.4 percent approve. He extrapolates those figures to represent all of Peru, not just the capital area.
''We antitaurinos represent the true voice of the country,'' he says. ``Peruvians are fed up with bullfighting.''
Freddy Villafuerte, a director of Taurolima, the organization that promotes the Señor de los Milagros bullfights, puts a different spin on the numbers.
Fuente: The Miami Herald
Prensa Perú Antitaurino
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