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Activists hope other countries will follow Colombia's lead and ban bullfighting

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The South American nation of Colombia is banning bullfighting. Animal welfare groups say lawmakers' approval this week, which was decades in the making, ends what they describe as glamorized animal torture. They hope this ban will inspire activists to end bullfighting in other countries. But bullfighting fans in Colombia say they won't give up the fight to preserve the centuries-old tradition. Here's NPR's Carrie Kahn.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting in Non-English language spoken).

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The screams this week in the chambers of Colombia's Congress were cathartic as lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to ban bullfighting. Terry Hurtado has been leading the charge on behalf of Colombia's animal rights group since the 1990s. He sees this as the start of a movement throughout South America and beyond. Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Mexico still allow bullfights.

TERRY HURTADO: It's very likely that the other countries where bullfights happen will also fall, or at least people will feel that it's very much possible to win the fight.

KAHN: Activists say bulls are bred to be aggressive and die a slow and painful death as crowds enjoy what they say is public torture. But Gonzalo Santamaria, whose family has been breeding bulls for generations, says lawmakers are not only wiping out Colombia's cultural heritage but also thousands of jobs.

GONZALO SANTAMARIA: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: "It's worrisome that our country is run by lawmakers willing to do away with these animals, to do away with all the associated jobs and, above all, to take away our freedoms," he says. Pro-bullfighting fans have vowed to appeal the decision to Colombia's highest court. The president, a longtime foe of bullfighting, is expected to sign the ban, which will go into full effect in 2028.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.