Nearly two years after bullfighting was virtually prohibited on Spain's Balearic island of Mallorca, the reintroduction of the events brought about more than the usual spectacle, particularly outside the bullring.
Video that emerged from Friday’s event in the Mallorcan capital of Palma shows crowds of anti-bullfighting demonstrators protesting the reemergence of the sport, allowed by a December 2018 decision by the Spanish Constitutional Court.
While the bloody tradition has been polarizing for years, the audio blaring over the ring’s sound system introduced yet another layer of tension to the event.
Left-leaning youth organization Arran Palma posted footage of the attendee-activist scene prior to the bullfight. Approximately 400 protesters were said to be in attendance.
“They had a loudspeaker in the center pointing towards others that sounded like the ‘Facing to the Sun’ and the hymn of Spain among others. Let's beat them! They will not pass! Fascism advances if you do not fight it!” reads the tweet, translated from Spanish.
Tenien un altaveu dins el recinte apuntant cap a noltros del qual sonaven tonades com el "Cara al Sol" i l'himne d'espanya entre d'altres.— Arran Palma (@ArranPalma) August 10, 2019
Barrem-los el pas! No passaran! El feixisme avança si no se'l combat!!! pic.twitter.com/yElooPLw31
“Cara al Sol,” or “Facing the Sun” is most commonly associated with the far-right Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
Further footage taken from the inside of the event site confirmed what members of Arran Palma reported hearing.
Un tribunal decimonònic denigra una llei balear moderna que acabava amb la barbàrie taurina, i permet un espectacle de tortura al Coliseu. Es monta una protesta animalista i els hi contesten amb el "cara al sol". Franquisme resucitat i caspa a kilos #Stopfascism #Stoptortura pic.twitter.com/E7M33n8bMe— Jesús J. Jurado (@JesJuradoSegui) August 10, 2019
According to the The Olive Press, government officials are looking into the matter to determine whether the anthem violates the 2007 Historical Memory Law, which effectively denounced the regime of Franco while recognizing Spanish Civil War victims on both sides.
Though the legislation called for the removal of “Francoist symbols” from public buildings, it does allow artistic and architectural exemptions. It’s unclear whether the dictator’s anthem falls under this category.
In the case of bullfighting, the island originally passed legislation that made it illegal to use horses or wield sharp implements, which, in Spanish-style fighting, are necessary to kill the animal in the Tercio de Muerte, or “third of death” (the finale). Bulls could also only perform for a maximum of 10 minutes.
Though not a complete ban, the guidelines removed some of bullfighting’s edge and historic, Spanish-style tradition. The law also sought to avoid going against Spain’s constitution, which protects the deadly sport as part of the country’s “national heritage.”