Bullfighting Returns to Mexico City. A Fight Over Its Future Goes On.

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At 4:30 p.m., the near-capacity crowd of 42,000 people at La Plaza México started restlessly whistling. They had waited since May 15, 2022 — a period of 624 days of legal challenges — for bulls to return to the world’s largest bullfighting arena, only to face another delay because of the hundreds of protesters outside.

When the parade of the afternoon’s three matadors and their bullfighting entourage finally emerged to salute the fans, the arena in Mexico City erupted. Then, at 4:58 p.m., the first bull charged out and raced around the ring.

Over the next two and a half hours last Sunday, fans cheered and jeered, shouted “olé,” smoked cigars, ate grilled meats and chips, drank beer and mezcal, and watched five bulls die with swords plunged into their spines.

“To see it here, the ‘olé’ and how the plaza rumbles, it’s indescribable,” said Erik Reyes, 30, a Mexico City resident who was in the stands..

Bullfighting, spread by Spain throughout its colonies in Latin America in the 1500s, has been at the center of a major legal fight over its return to the largest bullfighting city in the largest bullfighting country in the world. That battle has come to symbolize a larger war between tradition and evolving views on animal cruelty.

The legal whiplash continued on Wednesday, when a judge temporarily suspended bullfighting at La Plaza México — only days after it had resumed. La Plaza México officials have challenged the decision.

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Bullfighting Returns to Mexico City. A Fight Over Its Future Goes On.

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