tagged w/ catalonia
Wildfires drove thousands of people from their homes near a rare nature reserve in Spain's Canary Islands on Monday after a separate mainland blaze killed two, authorities said.
Firefighters struggled to control the flames that engulfed the wooded hillsides on the island of La Gomera, reducing lush green trees to black dust, spewing grey smoke and displacing residents and tourists.
That fire started more than a week ago and has devastated more than 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of land, including hundreds of hectares in the Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to rare subtropical plants.
Water-bombing aircraft were dousing the flames, which crackled rapidly through ravines in the west of La Gomera.
"It is very difficult because of the high temperatures, the wind, the low humidity and the lack of aircraft," a spokeswoman for the island council, Karen Bencomo, told AFP.
"We have three water-bombing planes and four helicopters. We need 10 more planes," she said.
On the other side of the island in the main town San Sebastian, beds were prepared in school lodgings for hundreds of evacuees, mostly tourists and visitors who came by boat from the west, mayor Angel Luis Castilla said.
More than 5,000 people remained displaced from various villages on Monday afternoon, the regional government estimated, half of them from around Vallehermoso in the north of the island.
That area was evacuated on Monday "to guarantee the safety of residents" as the fire advanced through nearby ravines, the regional government said in a statement late Monday.
"Everyone is clearing out. They are moving us, saying it is a precaution, but who knows? We can see the smoke getting closer," said Maria Gonzalez, 43, a visitor from the neighbouring island of Tenerife who fled Vallehermoso with her mother and daughter.
"People are very nervous and afraid," she told AFP as residents piled into buses and cars to evacuate.
On Sunday night thousands of people had flocked to the western port of Puerto de Vueltas on La Gomera, from where some caught boats for San Sebastian.
A smaller fire burned hundreds of hectares on Tenerife. Regional security minister Javier Gonzalez Ortiz told a news conference early Monday that the fire was stabilised.
Far away on the Spanish mainland, near the southeastern city of Alicante, a forest fire killed two members of the emergency team fighting the blaze, the regional government said.
Firefighters battled through the night against the flames in the pine forests around Torre de les Macanes north of Alicante.
By Monday morning the fire had been stabilised and the flames had died down after covering about 600 hectares, regional government official Serafin Castellano said.
Another man was badly burned in a fire in the northeastern town of Sant Joan Despi and was taken to a hospital in Barcelona, emergency services said.
The 61-year-old victim suffered second- and third-degree burns on up to 60 percent of his body, rescuers said.
Spain is at particularly high risk of fires this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years. The heat topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in recent days, but eased around most of the country on Sunday.
Last month four people were killed by a wildfire in the northern Catalonia region.
The Spanish government said 132,300 hectares of land had been burnt this year up to August 5.
Several blazes have broken out across the country in recent days, including one that burned part of the Cabaneros natural park, a reserve for animals and rare flowers in central Spain.
Meanwhile in Croatia and Bosnia, hundreds of firefighters were also struggling Monday to put out several forest fires.
About 1,500 hectares of land have gone up in flames since Sunday in Croatia's southern Skradin and Komin regions.
In Bosnia, dozens of forest fires have blazed in recent days in the south of the country, notably in the region of Mostar and Konjic.
More at the linkWildfires drove thousands of people from their homes near a rare nature reserve in... more
August 9th, 2011
08:00 AM ET
Should bullfighting be banned?
By Stephanie Garlow, GlobalPost
First Catalonia outlawed bullfighting, which the Economist likened it to a German state banning wurst or a French region condemning berets.
Now Peru's minister of culture has said the sport is "terrible" and that it causes excessive suffering for the animals.
So is bullfighting on the way out? Is it a "tradition of tragedy," as PETA claims, that kills 250,000 bulls annually?
Activists who gathered in Lima last week to protest the mistreatment of bulls would seem to agree. "Bullfighting promotes violence, torture and cruelty to animals for no reason," William Soberon, of the Anti-Bullfighting Front of Peru, told La Republica. "We're not in the colonial era."
Peru's newly appointed minister of culture, Susana Baca, said she felt sorry for the animals and that she cried when she once attended a cockfight. "I've never been to a bullfight but from the little I've seen in the media, I know it's terrible and I had to close my eyes," she said on the program "Buenos Dias, Peru."
But protests against bullfighting are nothing new in Peru. And comments by Baca that she would analyze the practice during her tenure quickly sparked controversy.
Bullfighter Fernando Roca Rey told La Republica that bullfighting should be seen as a cultural event and that "the minister can give her opinion, but that cannot be applied to the whole country." Bullfighting celebrations have been held in Peru since 1766 and the Plaza de Toros de Acho bullring is the oldest in the Americas and second-oldest in the world, reports AFP.
And the Spanish government recently dealt a blow to efforts to outlaw the sport when it ruled that bullfighting is an "artistic discipline and cultural product." The country's Ministry of Culture will now be responsible for the "development and protection" of bullfighting, a move that supporters hope is a step toward protecting the tradition from further regional bans.
Bullfighting is also practiced in Portugal and the south of France and is widespread in Latin America. Mexico City's Plaza Mexico arena is the biggest in the world with seats for up to 55,000.
And while public opinion might be swinging away from bullfighting — a poll last year for El Pais found 60 percent of Spaniards did not enjoy bullfighting — the sport still has big-name supporters. Peruvian novelist and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa campaigned to convince UNESCO to classify bullfighting as part of Spain's national heritage.
And in novelist Ernest Hemingway, the sport found one of its most enduring voices of support. The art of the bullfighting, Hemingway wrote in "Death in the Afternoon," "is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honor."
.CNN... . August 9th, 2011 08:00 AM ET Should bullfighting be banned?... more
With 5,771 participants in the lib dub Catalonia now holds the world record for this video celebrating the nations independence. "The chosen song was composed by the group "Obrint Pas" and its title is "La Flama"."-Daily WhatWith 5,771 participants in the lib dub Catalonia now holds the world record for this... more
Bullfighting Banned in Catalonia | Animal Rights Campaigners Celebrate as Spain's Most Emblematic Sport is Banned by Catalan ParliamentCatalonia votes to ban bullfighting
Animal rights campaigners celebrate as Spain's most emblematic sport is banned by Catalan parliament
* Giles Tremlett
o Giles Tremlett in Madrid
o guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 July 2010 19.56 BST
Bullfight: Matador performs a pass on a bull Bullfighting will cease in the Catalan region by the end of 2011. Photograph: Marcelo Del Pozo/Reuters
Its orange sands have witnessed both delight and death. Generations of matadors strutted their way across Barcelona's Monumental bullring, drawing roars of approval from the crowds as they tormented the hulking bulls with their scarlet capes before killing them with a sword-thrust between the shoulder blades.
But now bullfighting is to be banned from Barcelona and the rest of the north-eastern region of Catalonia after the local parliament today dealt a blow to Spain's most emblematic pastime and unleashed a political battle over what some see as a threatened cultural treasure.
Deputies voted by 68 to 55 in favour of a people's petition calling on the bullfight to be banished from a region that once played host to some of the world's greatest fights. The last matador in Catalan history will sink his sword into the last half-tonne fighting bull at the end of next year, with the ban starting in 2012.
"It is the worst attack on culture since our transition to democracy," said the Catalan poet Pere Gimferrer.
While some mourned the loss of a cultural jewel, the vote was hailed by animals rights campaigners worldwide. Ricky Gervais and Pamela Anderson were among the 140,000 who signed an international petition to the Catalan parliament.
"It sickens me to know that people are still paying money to see an animal suffering in such a horrific way," Gervais said before the vote. About 13,500 fighting bulls die in Spain every year – many in bullfights funded by local authorities who are estimated to pay out up to €550m (£457m) in subsidies.
In Spain, critics pointed to dark, if barely-disguised, political motives. Bullfight fans claimed many Catalan nationalist deputies had voted out of spite, because the fighting bull is an emblem of Spain – where it is known as the "national fiesta" – rather than of Catalonia.
The local El Periódico newspaper reported that several nationalist deputies had decided to back the ban only after Spain's constitutional court struck down parts of the region's 2006 autonomy charter earlier this month. At least 430,000 people, or 6% of all Catalans, protested on 10 July in Barcelona against the court's decision ,which declared Catalonia was not legally a nation.
Just as Britain's foxhunting ban mixed animal rights with class politics, so the bullfight ban brought together animal welfare and Catalan identity politics, local commentators agreed. "Some of our people will back the ban on the basis that if they are going to sink our charter, we will sink their bulls," a regional deputy from the Convergence and Union nationalist coalition told El Periódico.
Animal rights campaigners were upset that identity politics had been brought to play. "The issue is a moral one, not a nationalist one," said Dr Salvador Giner, head of the Catalan Studies Institute in Barcelona. "Bear-baiting was suppressed long ago and this is the same logic. Are we a modern nation, or are we going back to the middle ages?"
Dr Giner said the bullfight had a long history in Catalonia. "But it is a barbarous tradition." He also denounced those who voted against bullfighting but protected the correbous, a form of bull-taunting popular in village fiestas in southern Catalonia. "That should be banned as well, even if politicians lose votes. That would be consistent."
In recent years the matador José Tomás – beloved of many Spanish leftwing intellectuals and artists – had brought fresh life to the Monumental bullring but in general the bullfight has been in decline in Catalonia for decades. There is only one major ring functioning in Barcelona, with just 15 fights a year. The city's other emblematic bullring, Las Arenas, is being turned into a shopping arcade, following a redesign by Britain's Lord Rogers.
"There was never a strong tradition of bullfighting there anyway, they do not breed bulls," said Frank Evans, the Salford-born veteran British bullfighter. "It is like Devon staging Rugby League games."
Bullfight campaigners said the ban would cost €300m in lost revenues, and argue that the fight was an art form, rather than a cruel bloodsport.
"This is dictatorship," the Catalan bullfighter Serafín Marín said. "It is not a cruel show. It is a show that creates art: where you get feelings and a fight between a bull and person, where the person or the bull can lose their life."
Others saw a sinister attack on people's freedom to choose their own pastimes. "It is an attack on liberty," said Fernando Masedo, president of the International Federation of Bullfighting Schools, where children and youths learn how to face an angry bull. "People are free to go or not go to the bullring."
A petition calling for the ban to be extended to the capital of Madrid, home to the world's most famous bull-ring, Las Ventas, has 50,000 signatures. But there is little prospect of success.
The regional government, like that of Valencia, has declared the bull-fight to be a part of its "protected cultural patrimony".Catalonia votes to ban bullfighting Animal rights campaigners celebrate as... more
By 7AM (ET) Wednesday, We Animal Lovers Should Have Very Good News: The Bid to Ban Bullfighting in Barcelona Goes Before the Regional ParliamentBid to ban bullfighting in Barcelona goes before regional parliament
Bid to ban bullfighting in Barcelona goes before regional parliament
By Al Goodman, CNN Madrid Bureau Chief
July 27, 2010 6:44 p.m. EDT
Spain's bullfighting debate
Barcelona, Spain (CNN) -- The deep-rooted Spanish tradition of bullfighting is under fire in Barcelona and its region of Catalonia, where the regional parliament will vote on Wednesday whether to ban the fights.
If approved, Catalonia would become the first region in mainland Spain to outlaw bullfighting, and some see it as a slap in the face to the rest of the country.
Enrique Guillen, 24, laments that he might be the last Barcelona-born bullfighter to take the "alternativa," or ceremonial fight in the ring against the biggest bulls to become a full-fledged matador, which he did last year at Barcelona's sole remaining bullring, the Monumental.
Guillen's father worked at the bullring, opening the doors for bulls to charge in to face matadors and their death.
"My father brought me to see the bullfights when I still had a pacifier," Guillen said. "It would be frustrating not to be able to give to my children what my parents gave to me."
But activist Aida Gascon, of the Anti-Bullfighting Party, known as PACMA, looks beyond the tradition and sees animal cruelty.
She says she's attended just one bullfight in her life, and that was only to get a sense of the bull's suffering, which she depicted in a painting that hangs in her living room.
"Bullfighting is part of Spanish culture," Gascon said. "But that should change. Many traditions disappear as the society advances."
The number of bullfights across Spain has dropped by one-third in recent years, due mostly to budget constraints of local governments, which often fund the spectacles.
In Catalonia, there are now just over a dozen fights a year and the Monumental bullring in Barcelona is about the only place in the region that still holds fights.
But Luis Corrales and his pro-bullfight group, known as PPDF, released a study predicting big economic losses for Catalonia if bullfighting is banned. This would mainly result, he says, because the Catalan government would have to pay damages to the bullfighting industry, which holds long-term operating licenses.
"When the Catalan government and the opposition are working hard to trim the budget, how could they justify making big indemnity payments to the bullfighting industry, when it's not necessary," Corrales said.
But critics disagree, saying the economic impact would be minimal, given the small number of fights still held in Catalonia.
Either way, the Catalan parliament bullfight vote is being watched not only in Spain, but abroad, where many have a fascination with bullfighting.
The proposal to ban bullfighting started as a popular initiative in Catalonia and was accepted for consideration by parliament last year by a slim margin of votes. Since then, there has been an ever-intensifying debate, with bullfighting proponents and opponents gathering support from across Spain, even from abroad.
Most analysts predict that the vote on Wednesday will be very close. The two largest parties in parliament, the ruling Socialists and the opposition Catalan nationalists, or CiU, have given their members of parliament freedom to vote their conscience.
Some smaller parties on the left are expected to vote for the ban while the conservative Popular Party is expected to support continuing the tradition.
The ban, if approved, would take effect in January 2012 and would not end bullfighting in the rest of Spain. It still has a strong following in Madrid and in the south around Seville.
Spain's Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean already does not allow bullfighting, but a ban in Catalonia would be considered a bigger blow to the tradition.
Some analysts say that Catalan nationalism, including the desire by some in the Barcelona area for independence from Spain, also is playing a role in the vote, as well as the upcoming regional elections for parliament later this year.
But the main bullfighting proponents and opponents say the root issue is a clear line in the sand: tradition vs. protection of animals.
The Catalan parliament vote is expected by 1 p.m. (7 a.m. ET) Wednesday.Bid to ban bullfighting in Barcelona goes before regional parliament... more
Hosts Max Lugavere and Jason Silva explore Spanish life in a way usually experienced only by locals and the most adventurous travelers. In Part 7 we go to Catalonia to witness an unusual cultural event -- the building of human castles.Hosts Max Lugavere and Jason Silva explore Spanish life in a way usually experienced... more
This is one more example of how man's footprints are temporary - Man creates something and nature (or global climate change) makes it irrelevant or destroys it.This is one more example of how man's footprints are temporary - Man creates... more
Theyre human castles, literally: people standing on top of other people, built up to 9 stories high. Theyre called castells, and here in Catalonia, Spain, its a mix of sport and cultural event.Theyre human castles, literally: people standing on top of other people, built up to... more