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Home Culture Antonio Sanz, a busy Andalusian Interior Minister, between a firm commitment to bullfighting and his cultural entanglement | The bull, by the horns | Culture

Antonio Sanz, a busy Andalusian Interior Minister, between a firm commitment to bullfighting and his cultural entanglement | The bull, by the horns | Culture

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Antonio Sanz, in the San Telmo Palace in Seville, headquarters of the Ministry of the Presidency, Interior, Social Dialogue and Administrative Simplification of the Junta de Andalucía.PACO PUENTES

Antonio Sanz (Jerez de la Frontera, 1968) has been in politics since he was a kid; At the age of 15 he joined the Alianza Popular Youth Clubs, and in July 2022 he was appointed Counselor of the Presidency, Interior, Social Dialogue and Administrative Simplification in the second government of Juanma Moreno as president of the Junta de Andalucía. During that long period of time, Sanz has been everything in the Popular Party of the Community – always in a discreet and relevant background -, which has allowed him to assume responsibilities as a regional deputy, senator and delegate of the central Government and know in deepens the bowels of public management.

Now, as the right-hand man of the regional president, Antonio Sanz is a busy man, at the head of a department with innumerable powers, which mixes digital strategy, the regional police, electoral processes, social dialogue, relations with the Parliament, the external action of the Junta, communication and protocol, emergencies, public spectacles… And if that were not enough, the bulls.

Antonio Sanz is the friendly face of bullfighting in Andalusia, and he convincingly emphasizes some of the phrases that his president likes so much, such as that “the Andalusian Government is bullfighting,” or that “bullfighting is the culture of Andalusia.” It happens, however, that the counselor’s speech is so politically correct that, sometimes, the term culture is discolored.

Furthermore, Sanz has been working for some time to reform the Andalusian Bullfighting Regulations, initially approved in 2006; He hopes that it will be ready for the month of June and will serve as a guide to standardize the regulations of the four autonomous communities that also have their own standard (Navarra, the Basque Country, Aragon and Castilla y León), with which, he assures, he maintains advanced conversations.

“The bulls have always depended on the Interior and not on Culture; “The important thing is not the surname of the Ministry, but the commitment”

Ask. Is it true, counselor, that bullfighting is the culture of Andalusia or is it a mere declaration of good intentions?

Answer. It is a firm statement, full of conviction and exciting; a sincere, clear and resounding commitment that is not only based on feelings, but also on facts. There are many advances that we continually make in favor of the party. A government that claims to represent the majority of citizens has to be bullfighting by culture, by tradition, by art, and by economic, tourist and social values.

P. If that is so, why are the bulls not integrated into the Ministry of Culture but into the Interior?

R. Well, historically, and in most of the Autonomous Communities, bullfighting competitions have been and are in the Interior. If we take them to Culture to appoint an anti-bullfighting minister, we are doing bad business. Wouldn’t it be better to have a fully bullfighting Interior Minister? I think the important thing is not the name of the counseling, but the commitment. Furthermore, he has been in Interior all his life.

P. But you will not deny, counselor, that the cultural sectors depend and must depend on Culture…

R. But where do you see the negative of the bulls being in the Interior. That is an old and outdated version of bullfighting. I insist, it is not a question of titles. What good is it for Spain if the bulls are in Culture if we have an anti-bullfighting minister?

P. What do you think about Andalusia being the only Autonomous Community that classifies itself as bullfighting and that has not yet declared bullfighting as an Asset of Cultural Interest, as Castilla La Mancha, Valencia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra have done, La Rioja, and Castilla y León?

R. Of course, not because we are against it. Perhaps we should ask the PSOE, which did not do so during its 40 years of government. I don’t rule out that we do it. There are many things we have to do.

A raffle ceremony in the Plaza de La Maestranza in Seville.
A raffle ceremony in the Plaza de La Maestranza in Seville.

P. What is the economic budget that Andalusia dedicates to the promotion of bullfighting?

R. At this moment I don’t have the information. I’ll give it to you right away.

(17 days have passed since the interview was held in Seville on Holy Tuesday, and the Ministry has not yet clarified the financial amount that the Board dedicates to the bulls despite repeated calls from this newspaper)

P. You believe, then, that bullfighting in Andalusia has the same institutional and budgetary treatment as any other cultural sector, such as cinema, for example.

R. Well, look, I don’t make comparisons. It is indisputable that bullfighting is culture and an economic activity that drives employment and tourism. It is an industry that must be protected.

At this point, the counselor focuses on the different policies of his department related to the support of bullfighting: collaboration with the 30 existing bullfighting schools in the Community, promotion of the Andalusian Bullfighting Circuit, in collaboration with the Toro de Lidia Foundation, the creation of the Network of Bullfighting Municipalities, the Andalusia Bullfighting Awards, the training days for presidents and bullring delegates and the RTVA bullfighting bet, with a high audience rating.

But the most important issue that Antonio Sanz now has on the table is the reform of the Andalusian Bullfighting Regulations, whose draft has already been approved by the Andalusian Bullfighting Affairs Council (CATA), where the different professional and amateur associations are represented. bullfighting, and which hopes to receive the approval of the regional government next June.

“The purpose of this reform is to update and standardize issues that the sector considers necessary in bullfighting regulations,” explains the counselor. “We will not take any initiative contrary to the interests of the bullfighting world,” he adds, “and our objective is for the new text to emerge from the consensus of all affected parties.” And something else: “In Spain there are issues that unite citizens,” he says, “and bullfighting is one of them.” That is, in his opinion, “the reason that justifies there being an open dialogue with the Autonomous Communities with their own regulations, not to approve a single Regulation together, which is not possible, but to unify criteria.” “It makes no sense in a deeply bullfighting Spain,” he continues, “for there to be different rules for the same show.”

Among the changes initially approved, the counselor highlights the inclusion of public tentaderos as a new type of shows, improvements in sanitary devices for performers and the public, the creation of a registry of presidents, the regulation of post-mortem examinations of cattle and the regulation of studies and analysis of pythons, the suppression of the drawing of bulls in certain shows, and the streamlining and simplification of procedures for the authorization of shows, among others.

“We intend to unify criteria with the CCAA that have their own regulations; “It makes no sense that there are different rules for the same show.”

P. Will this new Regulation serve to more effectively prosecute fraud?

R. There is a responsibility that must be fulfilled. The role of authority is fundamental, and that is why we contribute to its training and coordination. Today there is not a single presidential appointment that has political connections, but rather professional knowledge to assume his responsibility.

P. One of the controversial points of the draft is the suppression of the cattle raffle at festivals, bullfights or livestock challenges, in hand-to-hand competitions and in unique, commemorative or charitable shows. Why is a basic rule that guarantees justice and equality among performing bullfighters suppressed?

R. Keep in mind that a fundamental condition must be met: the unanimity of the swords. It is not an imposition.

P. But if she asks for a first figure…

R. I don’t go in there. We understand that it is an opportunity that should not generate controversy.

P. But doesn’t he believe that a door is opened to the definitive disappearance of the draw based, precisely, on the unanimity of the bullfighters?

R. We are talking about very specific cases. Furthermore, there will be no deception for the spectators because it will be made explicit on the poster. If it is done with all caution, I don’t know where the harm could be.

Antonio Sanz insists that the draft of the new Regulation is an open document to which improvements can be included, he adds that his intention is to convene the other bullfighting Autonomous Communities in the coming days to agree on criteria, based on personal conviction, he assures, of that “we politicians must give prominence to those who make the party.”

P. Do you believe, then, that the new Regulation will guarantee the future of bullfighting?

R. This is a norm to move forward. Any update is positive if it is done with rigor, serenity and consensus between the parties. This is a decisive step to protect, foster and guarantee the future. That’s what’s important.

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