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San Fermin begins, an overrated bull festival | The bull, by the horns | Culture

by News Room
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Morante de la Puebla is still on sick leave and will not be at the San Fermin Fair on Friday 12 July. This is the worrying news that was released on Wednesday evening, and which has forced the Casa de Misericordia to hire another bullfighter from its court; in this case, Pablo Aguado. Morante’s absence means that he still does not feel he has recovered from his psychological problems, and it puts other upcoming posters in which he is announced in at risk. His withdrawal will not, however, affect the Pamplona fair, whose success in public responds fundamentally to the strength of the Sanfermines festival and not to specific names.

At eight o’clock this evening the first parade of the 2024 Pamplona Bull Fair will begin, with three highly interesting bullfighters taking part after their more than promising performance at the last San Isidro Fair: Jarocho, the only bullfighter to have cut off both ears from a bull, and Alejandro Chicharro and Samuel Navalón, who each took a well-deserved lap of the ring.

At 12 noon tomorrow, Saturday, the chupinazo will be launched, the Sanfermines will be inaugurated, and the bullring will offer a bullfighting show in which the knight Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, loved and respected in this bullring, will bid farewell to his fellow countrymen.

On Sunday, at eight in the morning, a rocket will announce the start of the first bull run, the streets of the route will be packed with runners (daring young men and women) and spectators from the barriers of the fence and on the balconies, and that will be the official presentation of the bull, the great protagonist of a festival that has crossed borders. Eight mass bull runs – EL PAÍS will begin its daily broadcast at 7.45 – and eight bullfights that can be seen through the private television platform Onetoro, complete the famous bull fair that maintains its popularity and prestige despite the fact that stubborn reality casts serious doubt on the bullfighting relevance of this cycle.

The mayor and most of the councillors who preside over the bullfights in Pamplona belong to parties that reject bullfighting

The fact that the presidency of the bullfights corresponds to the mayor of the city, according to the Bullfighting Regulations of the Community of Navarre, which allows him to go up to the box on the day of San Fermín, dressed, in the case of the gentlemen, in a tailcoat and wearing a top hat, sounds like a joke, although it is not; but it does not end there, because the mayor divides the rest of the days between the councillors of the different parties, which allows them to show off their best clothes – the tailcoat, presumably rented, is a must – and be the centre of attention of thousands of people.

But the joke is very bad, as well as incoherent, because it turns out that the majority of those who preside in Pamplona belong to parties that reject bullfighting.

For example, the current mayor, Joseba Asirón, of EH Bildu, will preside over the bullfight on San Fermín day, although he and his party are avowedly anti-bullfighting, and his municipal group, more consistent, has refused to participate in this frivolous display. But two councillors from Geroa Bai and two others from the Navarrese Socialist Party, parties that show no attachment to bullfighting, have not declined the invitation, nor have two from the Navarrese People’s Union and one from the Popular Party, parties that, at least, are not against it.

But there is more: none of them are supposed to have enough knowledge to preside over a bullfight in a first-class arena. They have the help of an advisor and a veterinary professional, but the past years show that the presidency is more interested in what the stands dictate than in the advice of experts.

Raúl Armendáriz, UPN councillor, in the centre, president of the bullfight held on 13 July 2023.(Image courtesy of Onetoro).

In short, the parties represented in the Navarrese capital take advantage of the bullfights to remind their supporters that they exist and to be seen in crowds, which must always be pleasant for those who live off votes.

But here is clear evidence of how little bullfighting matters to those who run the Navarrese Community.

As is well known, the Casa de Misericordia, the entity that manages a residence for 537 elderly people, is the owner of the plaza and responsible for everything related to bullfighting, from Los Corrales del Gas, to the bull runs, the preparation of the posters and the management of the bullfights. A bullfighting commission chooses the bulls and the bullfighters, and although it should be applauded for awarding bullfighters who have triumphed in San Isidro, even if they are not yet figures, it should be criticized for its conservatism in the cattle industry.

Roca Rey, the great winner of San Fermín 2023, returns for two afternoons, accompanied by the most outstanding figures of today, including Juan Ortega, who will step onto the arena for the first time, and there is also room for new bullfighters such as Fernando Adrián, Juan de Castilla and Gómez del Pilar, and others who have already made their debut in this arena, but are equally interesting, such as Borja Jiménez, Román, Isaac Fonseca, Manuel Escribano and Jesús Enrique Colombo.

The Casa de Misericordia is innovative in the hiring of emerging bullfighters and very conservative in the livestock section.

What lacks a logical explanation is the commission’s insistence on repeating, year after year, the bullfighting brands regardless of the success or failure achieved by the bulls.

In 2024, there is only one new bull, the Salamanca ranch of Domingo Hernández, and all the others are back. But if we take into account the bullfighting performance at the last fair, only Jandilla and Victoriano del Río fought three outstanding bulls each; the others, including the one from Núñez del Cuvillo, which is resting, were a resounding failure.

And it is well known that the issue of trophies is highly worrying. It has been repeatedly written that Pamplona is a raffle. The decision is made by the sunny stands, who care little about the performance of the bull and the work of the bullfighter.

For all these reasons, it is perhaps safe to say that the Bull Fair, with its daily full houses, is overrated.

The posters for the Bull Fair are as follows:

Friday, July 5th. Bullfight. Jarocho, Alejandro Chicharro and Samuel Navalón (bulls from Pincha).

Saturday, 6. Bullfighting show. Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, Roberto Armendáriz and Guillermo Hermoso de Mendoza (bulls from El Capea).

Domingo, 7. Diego Urdiales, Fernando Adrian and Borja Jimenez (bulls from La Palmosilla).

Monday, 8th. Juan Leal, Roman and Isaac Fonseca (bulls from Cebada Gago).

Tuesday, 9. Sebastian Castella, Emilio de Justo and Ginés Marín (bulls from Victoriano del Rio).

Wednesday, 10th. Miguel Angel Perera, Andres Roca Rey and Tomas Rufo (bulls from Fuente Ymbro).

Thursday 11. Alejandro Talavante, Daniel Luque and Juan Ortega (bulls by Domingo Hernández).

Friday, 12th. Cayetano Rivera, Roca Rey and Pablo Aguado, who replaces Morante (Jandilla bulls).

Saturday, 13th. Rafaelillo, Gomez del Pilar and Juan de Castilla (bulls from Jose Escolar).

Domingo, 14. Antonio Ferrera, Manuel Escribano and Jesus Enrique Colombo (Miura bulls).

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