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Ex-Bullfighter: “I Was Wrong”

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Ex-Bullfighter: “I Was Wrong”

[Ed. Note: For the reality of bullfighting, watch Bullfighting and visit SHARK - Bullfighting.]

From Zoe: It's Our Nature
July 2012

A bull named Terciopelo [Velvet] gored the Colombian bullfighter Álvaro Múnera, aka “El Pilarico,” in 1984, confining him to a wheelchair for life. Múnera was 18 years old back then. His best friend, “El Yiyo,” was gored to death months later, and the manager of both bullfighters committed suicide three years after that.

Múnera became a hardcore animal rights defender and nothing less than the Antichrist for tauromachy [the art of bullfighting] aficionados. He currently works in the Council of the City of Medellín, using his position to defend the rights of disabled people and to promote anti-bullfighting campaigns.

He’s basically one of a kind – a former bullfighter who now fights against bullfighting.

Alvaro Munera started his career in Colombia when he was 12 years old. He was a celebrity for six years until, in 1984 in Spain, he was tossed in the air by a bull named Terciopelo (Velvet) and has been in a wheelchair ever since. As his rehab began, so did his change of heart.

Before he was gored, Munera already had doubts. He tells the magazine Vice:

Once I killed a pregnant heifer and saw how the fetus was extracted from her womb. The scene was so terrible that I puked and started to cry. I wanted to quit right there but my manager gave me a pat on my back and said I shouldn’t worry, that I was going to be an important bullfighting figure and scenes like that were a normal thing to see in this profession.

I’m sorry to say that I missed that first opportunity to stop. I was 14 and didn’t have enough common sense. Some time later, I had to stick my sword in five or six times to kill a bull. The poor animal, his entrails pouring out, still refused to die. He struggled with all his strength until the last breath. This caused a very strong impression on me, and yet again I decided it wasn’t the life for me. But my travel to Spain was already arranged, so I crossed the Atlantic.

Then came the third chance, the definitive one. It was like God thought, “If this guy doesn’t want to listen to reason, he’ll have to learn the hard way.” And of course I learned.

Munera says he learned from his doctors, nurses, and other disabled people who told him he deserved what happened to him. He lives in Colombia and says most people living there and in Spain are strongly against bullfighting. It keeps going because it’s a “tradition” that’s upheld by a minority of government officials.

Read his entire interview here: http://www.vice.com/read/bullfighter-152-v15n10