The Current

Spain's bullfights suffer through economic crisis

A look at Spain's controversial bullfighting culture, wounded by the lances of animals rights critics, with the point driven home by a foundering economy.
For many Canadians, bullfighting exists only in the prose of Ernest Hemingway and the stunts of Bugs Bunny. The sport still draws crowds in Spain -- but the country's economic crisis has seen many empty seats in Spanish bullrings. Today we rebroadcast a documentary with a dimming of the suit of lights. 

Debt in the Afternoon by Caroline Arbour

The cheers in the iconic bullrings of Southern Spain have lost much of their thunder. An industry first wounded by animal rights activists... now suffers from Spain's severe economic crisis.

Government statistics show the number of events across Spain dropped by about 40 percent between 2007 and 2011. And ticket prices jumped as governments hiked sales taxes. Like a bull suffering from the bungling of a clumsy matador, the competition lives, but doesn't thrive.

We rebroadcast freelance journalist Caroline Arbour's documentary Debt in the Afternoon, which originally aired on April 15, 2013.

Since then the Spanish government has been considering actions to boost the sport, including a bill declaring bullfighting a part of the country's national heritage.

Listener Mail

We had time to read a letter from a listener in Alberta.

Karen Dufresne writes from the community north-west of Calgary known as Water Valley.

My husband Sean is a Volunteer Fire Fighter in Water Valley. Last Thursday we were at our daughter's Kindergarten Graduation celebration when the tones sounded on Sean's radio. Off he went.

Sean went for Swift Water Rescue training in Tennessee in 2009 on the tax payers' dime. It looks like tax payers' money went to very good use last week. Here is the bit he wrote on his facebook page the following day:

We rescued 4 people last night. I recalled in the early hours, my transition from the swimming lessons in North Bay at the YMCA, to taking my Swift Water Rescue training in Tennessee. Today, I can say that I am the only person to ever swim into the Barrier Mountain Guest Ranch. The first rescue swimmer didn't make it across the torrent water. What was forest had become a flash flood of swift water. There were 4 people and three dogs, trapped at the ranch that were eagerly awaiting some human contact.

That's just one of many remarkable rescue stories emerging from Alberta. Thanks Karen for writing to us!

If you'd like to tell us your stories of dealing with the flood... of how you're coping, what you've lost, your worries for recovering and rebuilding, as well as your experiences helping others, we'd love to hear from you.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. You can Email us from our website. Or call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366.

Last Word - Charo on Bullfighting

People who watched afternoon television in the 1970's likely remember Charo, the flamboyant, flirty and often silly entertainer. It was an act of course. She's an accomplished flamenco guitarist and a serious opponent of... bullfighting.

If you've wondered if the spectacle could possibly be as gruesome and pitiless as its adversaries suggest, watching Charo's video would be a good place to start. For today's Last Word, here's a little of Charo and her song, Dance, Don't Bullfight.


Other segment from today's show:


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