Barcelona tussles over bullfighting ban

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    Alejandro de Benito -- bullfighting student.

    - Christopher Werth / Marketplace

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    - Christopher Werth / Marketplace

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    Lluis Villacorta.

    - Christopher Werth / Marketplace

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    Helena Allue, animal rights activist.

    - Christopher Werth / Marketplace

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    Luis Alcantara, bullfighting school president.

    - Christopher Werth / Marketplace

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    - Christopher Werth / Marketplace

Jeremy Hobson: This Sunday, Barcelona, Spain hosts its last bullfight -- ever. Bullfighting has been banned in the
Spanish region of Catalonia, which includes Barcelona. Bullfighting supporters say the ban will hurt Spain, which has already got a 21 percent unemployment rate.

Christopher Werth reports.

Christopher Werth: On a Sunday afternoon, Barcelona's Plaza de Toros Monumental is only about a third full. The crowd watches as a matador faces off against an exhausted bull.

But when the bullfighter tries to plunge his sword into bull, he fails, leaving it alive but badly wounded. The crowd jeers.

Outside the arena, protestor Lluis Villacorta says this is why Catalonia's upcoming ban on bullfighting is a good thing. He's a protester who's covered in red paint.

Lluis Villacorta: I'm painted red as a symbol of blood, pain and torture. It's a metaphor for what's going on in there.

But supporters of bullfighting hope to overturn the ban. They argue it will cost thousands of jobs in an industry worth about $3.5 billion to the Spanish economy.

Luis Alcantara: It's like in any other business. When you close the business, some people get hurt.

That's Luis Alcantara. He's the president of this small bullfighting school just outside Barcelona. One of his students, Alejandro de Benito, is practicing with a pair of bullhorns on a bicycle wheel.

Alejandro de Benito: I'm very disappointed. As a professional, I won't be able to work in my homeland. And the workers at the bullfighting ring will lose their jobs. There's never a good time for that, but this is a particularly bad time to lose more jobs in Spain.

But Helena Allue of the animal rights group Pacma says very few people actually work in bullfighting in Catalonia.

Helena Allue: There won't be thousands losing their jobs because bullfighting will continue in the rest of Spain.

Allue says attendance at bullfights has been dropping for decades. A sure sign, she says, that bullfighting was a dying industry well before the ban.

In Barcelona, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.


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