Victorino Martín, President of the Fundación Toro de Lidia. Speech in the Senate

Ladies and gentlemen, It is an honour to be able to intervene today in this House, representative of the Spanish people and their territories.

I stand on my condition of bull breeder.

On behalf of a lineage which has selected for hundreds of years an animal, the bull, which besides being the most recognized image of Spain at any point on the planet, it is one of the genetic treasures of our heritage.

But I appear today mainly as president of the Fundación del Toro de Lidia, an entity of the civil society that represents everyone within the bull ́s world, from professionals to the millions of lovers of the bull ́s culture in its multiple expressions.

That of the bull in the arena, but also the bous al carrer, the cortes and recortes, the correbous, running of the bulls, the toro de cuerda, the sokamoturra or many others.

The bull structures our territory since centuries.

It is not a free random so that the Bull is our unquestionable hallmark throughout the world.

Therefore, no better than this place to talk about bullfighting, an ancestral cultural expression, which in each of the Spanish territories finds a way of manifesting itself.

I wish that my speech today in the Senate’s Culture Committee sheds a light that could help interpreting more clearly some of the aspects that today are at stake when we talk about bullfighting.

And to do so, the first thing is to properly frame the frame of discussion.

Abandon for a moment the almost folkloric debate of “bulls yes – bulls not”, to deepen a little more on the essence of things.

We understand that the debate on the bulls requires to separate it in two, if we are to conduct a successful analysis of the same, away from vulgar common places.

The first concerns our relationship with animals. How should that relationship be?

Our culture, our civilization, has been built from the domain of the human being on others with whom we share the planet: inanimate objects, plants and animals.

Homo sapiens begins its spectacular success story the moment he starts to dominate both the plants and the animals.

The Neolithic revolution has made us arrive to where we are now.

Thinking models have not done nothing but collect this state of matters, the mastery of man over nature, which could be summed up in that sentence of Protagoras: “Man is the measure of all things”.

Within this framework, which has made us to be who we are, the human being uses animals.

And they are used for many things, not just by an urgent food need.

We use them to eat, to survive; but also in Haute cuisine, intellectual refinement to our delight.

We also use animals for our clothing, when we use wool or leather garments. Garments that cover our needs, but also our whims, in the form of exquisite handbags, belts, jackets or shoes.

And we use the animals for our leisure, for horseback riding, admiring an animal in a zoo or as part of our ancient folklore.

Thus, only in Spain, and without considering the fish, approximately 26 animals are killed every second.

1,560 animals per minute.

If we consider the fish, which are also animals, we could probably triple these data.

I repeat, ladies and gentlemen, 26 animals per second. This is, therefore, the cold reality.

Again I pose the question. Can we still use animals?

And to this question we must respond with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.

And the answer could be ‘no’. This is, in essence, what the animalism movement defends.

Animalism is an ideology which, with different tinges, imposes that the men have no right to use animals for any of its purposes.

Animalism, want us to put up equal men and animals.

Animalism, Lords senators, is a movement that has its origin in the Anglo- Saxon world.

And it is from the Anglo-Saxon, North American world more specifically, from where the animalist ́s agenda is being promoted around the world.

There are dozens of animalist entities with budgets of millions of dollars per year that are permanently imposing this agenda.

It is difficult not to see in the media day by day any news related to the advancement of animalism.

We have thus an organized international movement with the sole purpose of imposing a new moral order to the world, so it becomes flatter culturally, more homogeneous, with fewer nuances.

A flat world culturally speaking ready so that the vacuum left by our cultural expressions can be colonized by new customs, a sole thinking in a world with homogeneous consumers.

And Lords senators, unfortunately it is not about of a science fiction future, too distant to us still.

Animalism is already very present in our lives.

Thus, the PACMA party, already close to parliamentary representation, seeks to expressly impose the animalist ́s creed.

But also other stronger parties are working to impose the doctrine of animal rights.

Let me read you a fragment of a proposed law presented in 2018 in the Andalusian Parliament by a party with parliamentary representation regarding animal welfare:

“To question the death, the abuse or the deprivation of liberty of the animals are consolidated advances in the consciousness of millions of people in Andalusia, while at the same time advance other types of inquiries about its use for entertainment events, for experimentation, for clothing or even for food”.

As you can see, it is the animal rights ideology expressed in an orthodox way.

Animalism is in our opinion a philosophy absolutely inconsistent with our culture, with the Mediterranean humanism.

Animalism would mean a cultural, economic and ecological catastrophe.

Cultural, because animalism would be the end of hundreds of cultural expressions that define us as people: the rapa das bestas, the pilgrimage of the Virgin of Rocio, the drag of stones, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian, the correbous, falconry, the pig slaughtering, the running of the bulls in Pamplona or in Medina del Campo, the feast of the lamprey, of the campanu, the drove of horses in Atienza, Octopus party and so many others.

Economic, because it will end with farming, of course, but also with the leather works in Ubrique, the Basque tuna, Jabugo, Teruel or Guijuelo ́s ham, Ezcaray blankets, handmade shoes in Mallorca or Alicante, the cheese in hundreds of styles, Salamanca ́s cold cut, the Catalan pork sausage, the end of the Galician shellfish or the almadraba in Zahara de los Atunes and Barbate.

And finally, animalism would also mean an ecological meltdown. The landscape in Spain, one of the most biodiverse of Europe, is a landscape largely comprised by the relationship of man and the animals that we use.

As such animalism would end the meadows, a global ecological jewel, but would also be the end of Cantabrian meadows, the pasture for grazing or the priceless care that sheep and goats make in our fields.

Animalism is the complete and utter annihilation of our culture and also of our rural world, with all its material and immaterial culture, with its heritage of ways to do, say, sing, dance or feel.

And the bull, as the totem and the most representative culture representation of Spain, is the first head that they want to collect.

But have it clear, ladies and gentlemen, after the Bulls it will go everything else. Animalism is not going to stop with the prohibition of the bulls.

Think for a moment on how animalism will affect to the different regions that you represent.

And then decide if you want to follow the anti-bullfighting game of those international forces. I understand that it might be easy to defend the animalism from an office in Madrid. I am a proudly countryman.

And I would say to all those who defend the animalism, to come to the rural Spain and then tell us, looking us to the eyes, that we can no longer live of what we live.

Maybe someone may think something like “well, let them reinvent themselves, they let them engage in something else”.

In what exactly? What is it that we millions of people of the rural Spain supposed to be doing? Developing mobile applications? Become graphic designers? Or innovators in whatever is cool at the time?

But in which world do these people live?

I invite all those animalist people to leave the city and to step on the field of reality, to tell us to face to face that they want to destroy us, that the want to put an end to all our reality.

Animalism is not about caring for cats and dogs, animalism wants to annihilate the rural Spain, so simple, so clear, and so overwhelming.

And any party that supports these ideological options, will be jointly responsible of that attempt of destruction.

In any case, the reality as of today worldwide and in Spain, of course, is that to the question of whether we can use animals, the answer is “Yes”.

And if we can use animals, why are people asking to forbid bullfighting? It is a cruel spectacle, is usually the answer to this question.

But I wonder, can bullfighting seriously be consider tougher than the life carried by the vast majority of animals in the industrial farms?

Or what is relevant is the fact that the rawness in bullfighting is public? Is the problem that we see it?

This is an extremely interesting topic, senators.

What kind of society do we want? Do we want a society where a part is spew the authority to say what can be seen and what cannot be seen?

An inquisitorial caste and censor who decides what is moral and what is immoral? What is culture and what is not culture?

Will this caste breed that only a certain type of art may be exposed? Will there be moral and immoral art forbidden? Will they decide how we should dress to be decent? Will they decide the length of skirts? Will they decide where and with whom we can kiss?

Ladies and gentlemen, you are guarantors that no one dares to make Spain a less free country, you cannot consent that someone spews the right to say what is culture or what is not culture.

Although I can almost hear some protest saying “no, it is not the same thing, here there is an animal involved”.

Yes, there is an animal involved, it is true. We have already said that the man uses animals for its profit, for its purposes.

The UNESCO only puts a red line for a cultural expression to be admissible, this is about human rights and fundamental freedoms.

And bullfighting, obviously, does not surpass such red line.

We the human beings have, of course, a series of ethical duties with animals. And without any doubt we have these duties very much present in the bullfighting world.

Those duties are present since they are taken care in our meadows years until they die in the arena, in the framework of a century-old ritual, surrounded by respect and admiration.

Only from the most absolute ignorance or malicious lie, we can say that people come to Bullring to enjoy the suffering.

If people enjoyed the suffering, be sure that a long time ago that there would be stands in the slaughterhouses.

And there will be many people who do not understand it, that see it unnecessary.

But the bullfighting, I assure you, is not a simple hobby for many people. It is an inherent part of the very essence of many of us.

Savater says that men need art and rituals to create mechanisms against death, balsams against the evidence of our destination. Perhaps this is an explanation for the mystery of the Bull.

Bullfighting and other expressions of bullfighting argue an integral vision of life.

In a society where death is obviated and sometimes deliberately hidden together with old age, disease, or pain, the bullfighting faces death from all levels.

This reminder of death allows to those that participate in the fiesta feel more attached to life.

This invitation to live more intensely radiates beyond the bullring and the street where the bulls are played. The consciousness of death allows that life can be lived more fully.

The bulls are universal because they convey the need to accept life in all its dimensions and how to live in fullness

The bulls are not a spectacle of death, but of exaltation of what we are: confront death to feel alive.

This is the reality for millions of people around the world. We do not ask everyone to share it. But we do demand that everyone respects it.

And I understand that there is still a question that does not quite have an answer: Is bullfighting needed?

Well, I’m not sure…

Is dance needed?

Is theatre necessary?

Are the different cultural expressions necessary?

Had we developed ourselves as species without Cubist painting or rock music? Are Goya, Falla or Garcia Lorca necessary?

Perhaps we could have existed without any of these things. Surely. But no doubt the world would be a much poorer place.

As poorer the world would be if there was no bullfighting.

And precisely, to preserve the cultural richness of the world, the UNESCO adopted in 2005 its Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of the cultural expressions, approved to prevent it from the possible censors of any cultural expression.

Because any cultural expression is the heritage of all, it makes the world more rich, the opposite of what some pretend

And the Unesco approved this convention just a few years after the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha’s in Afghanistan by the Taliban Islamic Regime.

They were bombarded because someone decided that those ancient statues were contrary to morality.

A reflexion on this senators; they destroyed a cultural heritage of all for the only reason that for some of them it seemed immoral

This is, neither more nor less, what some are pretending with bullfighting.

And I finish now, ladies and gentlemen

The culture of the bull was born on Mediterranean Sea shores. The bull as a totemic animal is a necessary myth in our way of understanding the world.

It is no coincidence that it is precisely a bull the animal on which the founding myths of Europe are held.

It is however the Iberian genre who finds deeper meanings on live and death in its relationship with this universal bull.

And it is so when, in times of our Golden Age is at its fullness widening the culture of humanity, when modern bullfighting appears as one of the most characteristic cultural expressions.

Culture is neither created nor destroyed by decree, but it is the product of time, the creations of some and of the assumption by people of those creations.

This is how bullfighting arises and develops

And also this is the way, since the Iberian origins, that bullfighting is adopted in other places, people with a similar vital drive, a similar way of facing life and death, of celebrating and exalting in a radically vital way the existence.

Bullfighting, ladies and gentlemen, is the cultural gift of Spain to the humanity.

France, Portugal, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Spain, are guardians of an exquisite patrimony of all and we are all responsible of its care and its transfer from generation to generation

Ladies and gentlemen, be worthy representatives of your people and fight for bullfighting, with pride, as the common cultural heritage of humanity.


Victorino Martín

Bull breeder

President of the Fundación del Toro de Lidia.

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