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Return of bullfighting met by protests in Mexico City

Animal rights activists took to the streets of Mexico City on Sunday to protest the return of bullfighting to the capital after almost two years.

“Torture is not art, it is not culture” and “yes to bulls, no to bullfighting” were among the chants heard near Plaza México, a 42,000-capacity bullring thought to be the largest in the world.

Bullfighter Joselito Adame kills a bull during Sunday's event. - Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP/Getty Images
Bullfighter Joselito Adame kills a bull during Sunday's event. - Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP/Getty Images

Mexican animal rights group APASDEM posted a series of videos of the protests on X, including one highlighting that “the torture of innocent living beings is about to start.”

The bullfight was the first in almost two years, according to the Plaza México Facebook account, which celebrated the return of the bulls in a series of posts.

“Bullfighting is more alive than ever and our fans are making the most of an enjoyable family atmosphere,” reads one post.

Plaza México has capacity for 42,000 spectators. - Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP/Getty Images
Plaza México has capacity for 42,000 spectators. - Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP/Getty Images

Bullfighting was suspended in 2022 as part of a long-running legal case, but in December Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the events could take place once more, according to Reuters.

Six bulls were fought during Sunday’s event, during which the ring was emblazoned with the word “libertad” — “freedom” in Spanish.

Protesters outside the bullring on Sunday - Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters outside the bullring on Sunday - Rodrigo Oropeza/AFP/Getty Images

Outside the gates of the bullring, riot police lined the streets as black-clad protesters tried to break through fences and shouted at attendees in front of walls spray-painted with anti-bullfighting slogans.

Bullfighting has taken place in Mexico for centuries, but in recent years opposition to the practice has grown.

In 2013, Sonora state became the first of Mexico’s 32 states to ban bullfighting, and a total of four states have now done so.

Riot police outside the bullring - Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Riot police outside the bullring - Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

In December, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that he would explore the possibility of holding a referendum on the future of bullfighting in the Mexican capital.

Seven other countries around the world also hold bullfights: Ecuador, Spain, Colombia, France, Peru, Portugal and Venezuela.

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