Bullfights returned to Mexico City on Sunday, marking the end of a year and a half hiatus, despite passionate protests outside the Plaza Mexico, the world’s largest bullfighting arena. This revival followed a temporary overturning by Mexico’s highest court of a local ruling that had suspended bullfighting, siding with animal rights defenders.
While bullfighting still thrives in many parts of Mexico, its future in the capital remains uncertain. Opponents argue that the practice contradicts animal welfare principles and infringes upon individuals’ right to a healthy environment. The resumption in Plaza Mexico fueled the hopes of bullfighting enthusiasts amidst an ongoing legal dispute.
The atmosphere inside the arena was charged with thousands of supporters celebrating the return of “fiesta brava,” as renowned Mexican matador Joselito Adame took on six bulls, all of which were ultimately slain. However, outside the arena, around 300 protesters gathered peacefully, voicing their opposition with chants, signs, and occasional tension involving thrown objects.
In May 2022, a local court had ordered the cessation of bullfighting activities at Plaza Mexico, responding to an injunction from the civil organization Justicia Justa. However, in December, the Supreme Court temporarily revoked the suspension, pending a decision on whether bullfights adversely impact animal welfare. Despite a last-minute appeal on animal welfare grounds, no ruling was delivered in time to prevent the resumption of activities.
The tussle between animal rights groups and bullfighting proponents has intensified in Mexico. Several states have implemented judicial measures limiting bullfighting, while ranchers, business owners, and fans argue that the ban jeopardizes thousands of jobs and the industry’s annual revenue of approximately $400 million. The National Association of Fighting Bull Breeders in Mexico, estimating 80,000 direct jobs and 146,000 indirect jobs linked to bullfighting, continues efforts to promote the tradition and attract a younger audience through events and workshops.