The Mexico City Congress will vote on a bill that would ban bullfighting after the bill was approved by the legislature’s animal welfare committee.
Four committee members voted Monday in favor of changing Mexico City’s animal welfare law to ban bullfighting while a fifth member abstained.
Jesús Sesma, Green Party MP and Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee, announced the committee’s endorsement of the initiative on Twitter.
“We will continue to fight for his approval in the vote of Congress as a whole. #It’s not the culture, it’s the torture,” he wrote.
Speaking after the committee vote, Sesma noted that there had long been pressure to ban bullfighting in the capital, but efforts by former lawmakers to ban the blood sport had failed.
Bullfighting in Mexico City is currently exempt from a ban on activities that involve animal cruelty and abuse. The bill would ban public performances in which “bulls, steers and calves are abused, tortured or killed”.
If it becomes law, anyone who organizes a bullfight could face a fine of 4.9 million pesos (US$231,000).
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the initiative in the coming days. The Morena party is the dominant force in the Mexico City Congress, holding 32 of the 66 seats. Only one of Morena’s Animal Welfare Committee members attended Monday’s virtual meeting in which the vote took place and she abstained.
The absence of Morena’s other members led lawmakers from other parties to question Morena’s support for the proposal. If most Morena lawmakers don’t support the initiative in the congressional vote, it would appear doomed.
The four animal welfare committee members who voted in favor of the bill noted that Mexico City’s constitution recognizes animals as sentient beings deserving of decent treatment. However, the bulls in the bullfights suffer fatal injuries inflicted by banderillas, they said.
The bullfighting association Tauromaquia Mexicana rejected the bill, calling it an attack on “a cultural and popular activity that has been established in our society for almost 500 years”.
More than 4 million people from “all walks of life” attend bullfighting events each year, he said in a statement. The association also said a ban on bullfighting in Mexico City would hurt an industry that contributed 6.9 billion pesos ($326.1 million) to the economy in 2019, generates more than 80,000 direct jobs and pays annual taxes of more than 800 million pesos.
Bullfighting has already been banned in four states: Sonora, Guerrero, Coahuila and Quintana Roo. On the other hand, the states of Aguascalientes, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro, Zacatecas, Michoacán and Guanajuato consider bullfighting as intangible cultural heritage.
With reporting from El Universal, Milenio and Reforma