Every Civilized Country Protects Its Animals

“Every Civilized Country Protects Its Animals”

The debates on the proposal of law to abolish bullfightspresented by France Insumisa (LFI), agitate the French Parliament and generate division within the different parties.

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Some formations, such as the Socialist Party and the National Group (extreme right), have given freedom of vote to their deputies. In fact, certain members of Marine Le Pen’s party have announced that, individually, they will vote in favor of the proposal, while within the progressive Nupes coalition, Fabien Roussel, national secretary of the French Communist Party, has spoken against. Renaissance, Emmanuel Macron’s party, has also given its deputies freedom to vote, although the government opposes the legislative proposal.

The French criminal code already includes a measure that prevents any act of cruelty to animals, but a derogation still allows bullfighting in some 50 cities in the south of the country, where there is an “uninterrupted local tradition”according to the text. The promoter of the bill, the deputy for Paris from France Insumisa Aymeric Caron, explains during an interview with elDiario.es that the challenge now is to put an end to this exceptional regime.

Caron and the other defenders of the measure emphasize that it has enormous popular support among the citizenry – a recent poll, prepared by Ifop-Fiducial, points out that 74% of the French are in favor of the ban. The result of the vote, which must be held on Thursday in the Assembly, is uncertain.

Initially, the text received a lot of support, including members of other parties, but in recent weeks there has been a significant mobilization against it. Are you still optimistic about the vote?

Right now I can’t make a diagnosis, we have to wait. Democratic logic says it should pass: according to some polls, nine out of ten French people support the abolition of bullfighting. And when I speak with other deputies –even those who are not from my group–, I see a willingness to vote in favor or, at least, not to oppose.

The question now is the weight of the lobbies because they have been carrying out important disinformation work for three weeks to influence the vote. There is dishonest communication on the matter. The representatives of the world of bullfighting have not wanted to participate in the auditions in the Assembly but they have gone to speak directly with deputies. One has even given a kind of conference to the members of the National Association.

How do you explain that a measure with such popular support is so difficult to approve?

When I proposed the issue to my group mates –actually I am a representative of a party called Ecological Revolution for Life, registered in the France Insoumise parliamentary group–, there was some surprise. They considered it anecdotal because it concerns few animals and only some regions and they thought that there were other more important problems, even within the animal cause. However, Thursday is a parliamentary space in which our group can directly put their texts to a vote; This structure means that it is not a space for complex debates. This is a very simple topic: for or against, hours of discussion are not necessary. In addition, it is very strong symbolically and, as I said, public opinion is almost unanimous, particularly among young people.

It is possible that a vote will not be reached, since it occupies fourth place on the agenda defined by its LFI group, in a session that cannot last beyond midnight.

Previous LFI parliamentary spaces have allowed between four and six texts to be voted on, so in theory there should be no problem. What could happen is that the other parties try to obstruct both the three previous texts and this one. But that would be a total sacrifice of the legislative rules. France has to vote whether or not we allow an animal to be tortured for the entertainment of a few. Because that is bullfighting. If the text were not voted on, it would be a failure of democracy in this country, a terrible sign.

The text points directly to the bullfight, but there are other shows in the towns, outside the bullrings, that have to do with bullfighting. Would the law mean its prohibition?

The text directly concerns bullfighting as it is understood in France and Spain and excludes, for example, the contests that are practiced in France in the Landes or the Camargue [concursos de recortes] in which the bull is not mistreated. Because the fundamental question is that. About the rest of the practices, any type of shows in which animals are harmed are already prohibited in French territory with current legislation.

In Portugal, where bullfights are held without death in the arena (although the bulls are slaughtered outside the arena), It has been proposed to move towards a version of bullfighting that eliminates blood.

I have nothing against having shows that raise questions about our relationship with animals, a reflection on civilization, the wild, culture, etc. There can be a representation in the squares between a man and a bull or reinvent the bullfights with the technical means that exist today (virtual, etc). All I want is to stop torturing animals.

One of the arguments used by deputies who oppose this law is that it is an example of how the French who live in cities – particularly Parisians – want to impose their vision on the rest of the country.

By that kind of reasoning, all rural communes in France should be autonomous. Each one could do what they want: some could torture the bulls, others drive at 180 km/h on their roads… Individual decisions are subject to the law and actions have consequences. Because in reality bullfighting is already prohibited on French territory and it was prohibited because we consider that, according to our moral standards, it is going too far in the suffering we inflict on animals. And I say going too far because abuse continues to exist in other sectors, such as intensive livestock farming or hunting.

There came a time when we considered that animals are sentient beings and it is not humane to torture them, that is why they began to legislate for animal welfare, in France and in other countries. Every civilized country protects its animals, because there is a link between the mistreatment that a non-human animal is made to suffer and a human one, the same logics come into play. However, today torture sessions continue to be organized in France because certain cities and certain regions received an exception. The fact that citizens of my country are exempt from that law and torture animals is a problem for me.

Beyond bullfighting, this question of the rural-urban territorial fracture is present, even within France Unsubmissive.

It is true that there are members of the LFI party, quite media, who affirm that we have a problem, that we are weak in the rural world, that we do not understand the sensitivities of certain territories… But I deny that vision, for me that approach is a caricature. Perhaps it is true that we have less militant force to explain our program, but that city-town dichotomy almost no longer exists, the reality is more confused, more nebulous.

On the one hand, cities are expanding, as well as medium-sized populations; on the other, more and more citizens leave the city to settle in the countryside, because they want another way of life, because they want to eat healthy. And many among them find themselves with practices such as extensive agriculture with pesticides, with hunters and with an increasingly built-up territory, with more shopping centers and urbanizations. And that’s not the field they want.

there is also a debate, which arises during the protests of theyellow vests’, in which they try to oppose purchasing power and emergency climate change, an alleged confrontation between citizens concerned about the end of month and those worried about the end of the world.

I am a radical environmentalist: before creating my party, I had already written books on the subject, with a particular vision. In fact, I created my party because I felt that Europe Ecology-The Greens was not radical enough. And now I work hand in hand with Francia Insumisa, which is a group better known for social issues. The fact that we are together means that we have understood that the two combats are closely linked, that one will not be done without the other. The same mechanisms apply when nature is exploited or when a worker is exploited.

In this vision of ecology, the antispeciesism. What is that theory about?

It is a thought that combats the dominant idea in the West that says that the human being is above the rest of the creatures and that this gives them particular rights, that we can inflict things on animals that we would not make a human being suffer. That idea would be speciesism. An example can be bullfights, but also the atrocious conditions of some animals in certain types of livestock. The idea is not to say “we are going to treat all animals as human beings”, but if an animal suffers levels of stress or pain that we do not find tolerable for a human being, it is not normal for it to be allowed to suffer.



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