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Coahuila becomes third state in Mexico to prohibit bullfighting.

Coahuila has become the third state in Mexico to impose a ban on bullfighting, following the lead of two other states that banned the practice in recent years. Sonora was the first state to prohibit bullfighting, passing a law to that effect in 2013. Guerrero followed suit with its own anti-bullfighting law in 2014.

The Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico (PVEM), with the support of animal rights groups, has led the effort to ban bullfighting in the three states as well as municipalities in Veracruz state and Michoacan states (SourceMex, July 3, 2013). The PVEM has also led campaigns to ban the use of live animals in circus acts around the country (SourceMex, July 23, 2014).

Javier Rodriguez, the lone member of the PVEM in the state legislature, introduced the measure, which obtained the support of Gov. Ruben Moreira Valdez and federal Deputy Refugio Sandoval, also a member of the PVEM. Moreira's support was key in the passage of the initiative, which was approved by a 16-5 margin in the legislative body dominated by the governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). The conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) accounted for four of the five nay votes.

"The majority of the citizens of Coahuila reject bullfights," Moreira said in a press conference shortly after the legislation was approved. "In fact, I would dare to say that 100% of the citizens of our state reject violence against animals."

In adding his signature to the legislation sent to his desk by the state legislature, Moreira pointed out that the initiative is compatible with all international standards regarding the protection of animals. "We are not talking just about violence but also torture because of the manner in which the bulls are sacrificed."

"In addition to the pain inflicted on the animal, the practice of this activity could provide several negative values to society, such as the unjustified use of violence, a disdain for animals, and the enjoyment of torture and mistreatment of a creature," said the text of the legislation approved by the Coahuila state legislature.

The initiative received strong support from animal rights organizations such as Humane Society International (HSI) and Animal Heroes. "This is a significant state in the effort to put an end to the cruel sacrifice of bulls during the bullfights in Mexico," said Anton Aguilar, HSI's Mexico director.

Animal Heroes launched a major campaign before the vote to support the initiative in the Coahuila legislature. "We are pushing for Coahuila to become the third state in Mexico to prohibit bullfights," Antonio Alejandro Franyuti Vidal, national director of Animal Heroes in Mexico, said during a visit to Saltillo on the eve of the vote.

Political motivation?

The PAN delegation in the legislature suggested that the move to ban bullfighting was really an effort to marginalize Armando Guadiana, owner of the Coliseo Centenario bullfighting arena in Saltillo. Guadiana has expressed a desire to run as an independent candidate in the next gubernatorial election in 2016. The business owner--who has been outspoken in his criticism of the corrupt practices of current Gov. Ruben Moreira and his brother, ex-Gov. Humberto Moreira (SourceMex, Dec. 7, 2011)--offers the same type of self-made image as Jaime Rodriguez, also known as El Bronco, who won the gubernatorial race in neighboring Nuevo Leon in June of this year (SourceMex, June 24, 2015). Guadiana, who is sometimes known as El Bronco de Coahuila, believes the same type of discontent against the PRI that propelled Rodriguez to victory this summer is present in Coahuila.

"Our party voted against the measure because we do not want to be part of any effort of political targeting," said PAN state legislator Jesus de Leon Tello. "We have to legislate in favor of laws that benefit everyone."

Other critics suggested that Guadiana might have been the target of the anti-bullfighting legislation. "We know that there was political motivation behind this law," columnist Rafael Cue wrote in the daily newspaper El Financiero. "There was little regard among legislators that Coahuila has one of the best and most modern bullfighting arenas in the country, the Coliseo Centenario, and that the action would leave thousands of people without a job."

Cue also pointed to the argument that has often been raised by opponents of anti-bullfighting legislation: that a ban would infringe on the cultural rights of many Mexicans, who have enjoyed bullfighting for generations. "[The initiative] violates the rights of the citizens of Coahuila to enjoy the culture and the excitement of a bullfight," said the El Financiero columnist.

"All of us who love this spectacle should make our voices heard," said Cue. "Our traditions are linked for almost 500 years to this cultural expression."

There were other columns with a similar message. "The prohibition of bullfights in Coahuila was not the result of a citizens' demand but a move with political motivation," Humberto Murrieta, a broadcaster and sportswriter, wrote in the daily newspaper El Universal. "This ban is anti-democratic and unconstitutional."

"There was no discernible desire by citizens of Coahuila to put an end to bullfights," added Murrieta. "Rather, there was a clear effort to target an individual: Armando Guadiana."

The discontent about the new ban was discernible at the last-ever bullfight at Coliseo Centenario on Aug. 31. The bullfighters mourned the end of an era by wearing black ribbons, and many participants spoke out angrily against Moreira and the PRI. There were only a few people to hear the protests, however.

"The stands were almost empty because many regulars did not attend because of fear that they would be targeted by the authorities," said the Coahuila-based daily newspaper Vanguardia.

Addressing the sparse crowd, Guadiana pledged to keep on fighting. He said that this would not be the last bullfight and that bullfighters from other states have come out strongly in support of the practice in Coahuila. If he does not succeed in reversing the law, said the entrepreneur, he plans to build a new facility in Nuevo Leon, just on the other side of the Coahuila border.
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Author:Navarro, Carlos
Publication:SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Sep 9, 2015
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