- Title: Bullfighting returns to the Colombian capital amid protests and tear gas
- Date: 23rd January 2017
- Summary: CLOSE-UP OF GIRL'S FACE COVERED WITH BLOOD
- Embargoed: 6th February 2017 02:30
- Keywords: bull fighting tear gas Catalonia matador
- Location: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- City: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Civil Unrest
- Reuters ID: LVA00260AVHHF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Police in Bogota launched tear gas on Sunday (January 22) as some thousand protesters demonstrated against the return of bullfighting to Colombia's capital for the first time in four years.
Protesters pushed down barricades, spat and threw rocks at civil police who responded with batons, as riot police employed stun grenades and gas. Some 1,200 police officers were deployed to control the protest.
Several arrests were made as police and paramedics attended to injuries incurred in the scuffles.
According to local media, 18 people were arrested and 33 injured, including three police officers.
Spectators added to the tensions, seemingly taunting protesters from the turrets of Bogota's 1930s-era brick bullring, smiling and waving handkerchiefs in response to cries of "assassins" and "torturers".
Bogota's previous leftist mayor outlawed bullfighting in 2012, but the constitutional court later overturned the ban, ruling that it was part of Colombia's cultural heritage and could not be blocked.
Student protester, David Esquivel Velazquez said he was not only demonstrating against the tradition, but against police brutality and for the right to protest.
"The Constitutional Court decree which permits events such as bull fighting argues in favour of the liberty of expression of those participating, but beyond demonstrating in favour of protecting the bulls we are defending our right to free-protest, we are having to deal with police provocation, I personally was attacked three times by the police, including kicking and beating," said Velazquez.
The incumbent mayor, Enrique Penalosa, says he supports animal rights activists who oppose the tradition, but that he has no choice but to enforce the high court's ruling.
Spectator, Felipe Castillo, said the process had been highly political, but supported the return of the tradition in the name of freedom of expression.
"It is clearly a political issue. Whilst the previous mayor had a clear stance against bull fighting but also, in some degree, incited violence, the current mayor has said that he does not agree (with bull fighting) but those who want to watch it are at their own liberty. I think there is a clear change in the way the issue is being dealt with," said Castillo.
Penalosa has said he supports legislation going through congress in order to prevent state resources from financing bullfights, and that each district should decide whether they can take place.
In Spain, where the tradition began, the Constitutional Court reversed in October last year an earlier ban on bullfighting in Catalonia, passed by the regional parliament.
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