Spain's matadors return

After being banned from public television in 2006, bullfighting returns to Spanish TV primetime

The matadors return

Felix Ordonez/Reuters

Before Mariano Rajoy was elected prime minister of Spain last year, he promised the return of fiscal prudence, economic prosperity and gut-splattering bullfights on prime-time TV. So far, the Conservative politician has kept at least one of those campaign promises.

Last week, Spain’s public broadcaster TVE aired its first bullfight in six years. Broadcast live from the northern city of Valladolid, the fight featured one of the country’s most famous matadors, a man known as “El Juli.” To many liberals, who view the fights as barbaric, it marked a huge step back. To conservatives, who consider the sport a celebration of Spanish culture, it marked a glorious return.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s Socialist government banned bullfighting on public television in 2006. Bullfights were shown on private, pay-per-view channels, but banned from public airwaves as inappropriate for children.

With bullfighting most popular among aging Spaniards, many conservatives fear the tradition will die with them. Nostalgia for Spanish culture has been particularly prevalent in recent years; record numbers of immigrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Spain, bringing along their own cultural practices. Rajoy, a fierce defender of bullfighting, is doing his part to keep the sport alive.

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