TESTIMONIALS – The anti-corrida bill debated Thursday in the National Assembly does not only threaten the very existence of this spectacle. It also jeopardizes an entire ecosystem, argue its actors who are mobilizing.
Bullfighting has always been an object of scandal. From the 16e century, Pope Pius V forbade it throughout Christendom, considering that man was risking his life there for a cause that was not worth the trouble. At the end of the 18e century, the arguments become above all economic and social. Today, bullfighting faces a new threat, this time within the French legislative body itself. This Thursday, November 24, the National Assembly is examining the bill of deputy LFI Aymeric Caron, which aims to ban it throughout the territory.
If the text was rejected in committee, it plants a new symbolic banderilla to this thousand-year-old tradition. But certainly not the thrust. Because bullfighting knows how to survive according to threats. “It is a spectacle that is both antimodern par excellence, but also eternal and universal.», summarizes Olivier Mageste, attorney of the young bullfighter Dorian Canton, his mentor and agent for the laymen.
Respect for animals
Aficionados and actors of bullfighting still have arguments to oppose to their detractors, who set up animal welfare and the refusal of the suffering inflicted on animals as an absolute value. “Today, animal suffering is associated with human suffering. When a bull is killed in the arena, our opponents see humans diedeplores Raphaël Raucoule, known as “El Rafi”, young and brilliant matador nîmes. Animalists and anti-speciesists would like us to put man on the same scale as animals».
If a bull and Aymeric Caron drown in a river, I will save Caron.
Benjamin Cuillé, breeder
However, the notion of respect for the animal is central to bullfighting. Cattle have for five years, age when those who are selected are doomed to enter the arena, one hectare to flourish in the wild.
The bull is moreover the animal that the young torero “respect the most in the world». «It’s the one that motivates me every day to surpass myself, that makes me dream every night. It is the animal that transcends me and gives me the most emotions“, he confides. For him, “the real animalist is the bull breeder who gets up every morning, whether it’s windy or rainy, to put hay on the animals“. But for Benjamin Cuillé, we must not forget the essential: “It’s still animals». «If a bull and Aymeric Caron drown in a river, I will save Caron“, he jokes.
A fight far from being won in advance
Above all, all the actors in the world of bullfighting agree on one thing: the very notion of combat is inscribed in the race of the good bull, raised for this purpose. “In its genome, the bull has this ferocity. When he is wounded he returns to the fight, where all the other animals would remain hiddensays Rafi. This animal was born to fight. Against man or against his congeners. “Every year, many bulls die on farms because they kill each other. They have this unmatched savagery in them“says the bullfighter.
The bullfighters suffer, take a lot of beatings. Some are dead or will remain disabled all their lives.
But for the anti-bullfighting, the cause is heard: the matadors, those who put the bull to death, would be “assassinswho kill “for fun”. However, “I put my life on the line every time I face a bull. It has two horns and is in danger of catching me and killing me at any moment.“recalls Rafi. The fight is far from being won in advance:The bullfighters suffer, take a lot of beatings. Some are dead or will remain disabled all their lives“, emphasizes Olivier Mageste. These are the values that bullfighting intends to defend through the funeral act of the bullfighter: “Heroism, greatness, bravery‘, lists theattorney. So many notions today forgotten, discredited and thrown into the dustbin of history.
«Killing a bull does not bring joy to the bullfighter. It’s a moment of truth, where the matador surrenders, a moment of commitmentadds Dorian Canton, a promising 21-year-old bullfighter from Béarn. For the whole of the bullfighting world, it is undoubtedly the most beautiful death that man can offer to a bovine. “Any other type of cattle is fattened at six months old, then goes to the slaughterhouse and is shot in the head. There’s no meaning to this life», object encore Rafi.
More than bullfighting, a matter of culture and traditions
But the real motivation of the matador is in the stands. Bullfighting is above alla show for the people and by the people“recalls the young man. “We live for this form of euphoria springing from the osmosis between the torero and the bull, which then reverberates in the stands“, he adds. If a recent Ifop poll for The Sunday newspaper indicates that 74% of French people now say they are in favor of banning bullfighting, Rafi points out that local polls frequently peak at more than 80% against the abolition of bullfighting. And the approximately 200 annual shows prove it: bullfighting always attracts crowds.
Because it is above all a matter of culture, traditions, those of the country of Nîmes, Arles, Béziers and Bayonne, those that run from the Camargue to the Basque Country, passing through the mouth of the Aude. More than a show, bullfighting is “a way of lifeabounds Benjamin Cuillé, breeder of fighting bulls in the Gard. We only live for that and by that. And we couldn’t live otherwise“. This bill is aattack on our passion, but above all on our identity», abonde Dorian Canton.
Banning bullfighting would not only mark the end of a thousand-year-old tradition. It would also jeopardize an entire ecosystem, preserved from construction and concreting by the sole presence of fighting bulls, argue breeders and bullfighters. “We don’t live in space but in geography“, insists Olivier Mageste. And Rafi adds:What we like is the life that is created around this show, it’s the party, the transmission. It is a process full of life, which is not limited to the death of the bull“. One thing is certain: today, bullfighting questions, moves, shocks, but never leaves marble.