December 30, 2005

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Spanish-Mexican Matador Exchange Agreement Canceled

If you were planning to attend next March’s World Series of Baseball, or if you anticipated watching Spanish matadors, performing in Mexico, or Mexicans in Spain, this season or in 2006, forget about it.

The World Series of baseball was designed to involve competition among major league teams from the Dominican Republic, Japan, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the United States.

But, the Bush Administration denied the Cuban team to enter the United States, effectively gutting the International World Series. As one Cuban citizen told The New York Times, “Enough already! It’s unbelievable. This is about sports, not politics. In Cuba, baseball is our culture. Everyone was so anxious to see these games.”

At the same time, The Spanish Matadors Union voted, last week, to break the agreement they had between Mexico and Spain. All contracts for Mexicans to torear in Spain, and Spanish matadors to perform in Mexico, were suspended.

The first time that the convenio was broken was in the 1940s’. Only Carlos Arruza was allowed to perform in Spain, because although he was born Mexican, his parents were Spanish.

The current dispute is a backlash to a controversy that developed two weeks ago. The infamous Plaza Mexico Empresario Manuel Herrerías contracted Mexican Rejoneador Rodrigo Santos and Mexican Matador Humberto Flores to appear on a card with Spanish Matadors El Fandi and Finito de Córdoba.

The Mexican Union of Matadors protested the cartel, because according to the convenio, bullfight cards could present only a 50/50 division of Spanish and Mexican toreros, although according to the convenio, the nationality of rejoneadores does not count. The result was a card of two Spaniards and one Mexican.

Herrerías ignored the union’s protest and presented the card, as announced.

Afterward, the Mexican union banned Flores and Santos for a year, while El Fande and Finito de Córdoba were banned from performing in any Mexican plaza de toros for a period of five years.

The Spanish Matadors union then retaliated by rupturing the Mexican-Spanish convenio.

Herrerías retaliated by contracting Spanish Matador Antonio Barrera, as well as the banned Humberto Flores, for last Sunday’s Plaza Mexico card.

Antonio Barrera was warned, by both the Spanish and Mexican unions, that if he performed on the card, he would be in contempt of the ruptured convenio. It was reported that he was even threatened with physical injury, the breaking of his limbs. In the meantime, the Mexican union threatened additional action against Flores, if he performed in the corrida. Stuck between the donnybrook between the two unions were the aficionados, who just wanted to see a bullfight.

The official cartel for last Sunday, as released by Plaza Mexico, was as follows:

Monumental Plaza de Toros “México”

Temporada Grande 2005-2006

9ª Corrida

Domingo 25 de Diciembre de 2005

16 Horas

6  “Vaca Hermanos”  6

Propietarios: Don Pedro y Don José I. Vaca Elguero

Rancho: “La Punta”

Municipio: Lagos de Moreno

Estado: Jalisco

Divisa: Rojo, Verde y Azul Marino

Matadores de Toros:

Humberto Flores

Guillermo González “Chilolo”

Antonio Barrera

(Español)

In fact, the corrida was held, last Sunday.  Alberto Huerta substituted for Antonio Barrera, but Humberto Flores refused to honor the sanctions imposed by the Mexican union, and performed in the corrida.  He cut one ear and suffered a broken nose, but it’s likely that he’ll endure more than that, by the time that the Mexican union gets done with him.

This whole fiasco boils down to two realities: Herre-rías—who has been accused of all sorts of violations of the taurine reglamentos, including the presenting of underage animals as genuine bulls—wants to bust the Mexican union, and the union wants to take away Herrerías’ management of La Plaza Mexico. In the meantime, Bailleres, whose organization controls most of bullfighting (baseball, soccer, etc. etc.) in Mexico, seems to be sitting back and saying, “You guys fight it out; I’ll hold your coats”.

The truth of the matter is that Mexican bullfighting cannot survive, without Spanish matadors on the cards. Eloy Cavazos is the only Mexican matador who draws crowds, but he can appear in only one bullring at a time. But, Spain couldn’t care less if any Mexican matador does or doesn’t perform in any Spanish plaza de toros.Although Bullfight World rarely editorializes, it is incumbent upon us to do so, now.

Three steps should be taken: (1) Herrerías should be removed from managing La Plaza Mexico; (2) the Distrito Federal Taurine Commission (which is incompetent) should be totally overhauled; (3) the Mexican Matadors Union should, likewise, be dissolved and re-built.  In both of the last two steps, the disorganized “organizations” named should be headed by knowledgeable aficionados who know what the hell they’re doing and have genuine love for La Fiesta Brava.Only when those three things are accomplished will the convenio be re-established and La Plaza Mexico will be afforded the dignity and respect that it deserves.

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