Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bullfights and Sodas

October 23, 2011


In front of the Roman arena of Nîmes stands a bronze statue of Nimeño II, the brilliant local torero (and brother of Nimeño I) who was severely injured by a Miura bull in 1989 which left him partly paralyzed. Two years after the accident he committed suicide. It is one of the dramatic stories that punctuate the history of tauromachy in France and in Spain, where an anti-corrida movement has been brewing for some time and has now come home to France.
When Catalonia recently outlawed bullfights on its territory and 20,000 aficionados packed the arena of Barcelona for a final corrida, supporters of tauromachy - in danger of losing other territories - began to organize demonstrations to safeguard corridas wherever strong interest still exists. Nîmes is one such place, and during its harvest Feria on September 18th the first clashes broke out between pro- and anti-bullfighting demonstrators. Taken by surprise, the pro forces could not prevent the opposition from "desecrating" the statue of Nimeño II which to many was going too far. So two days ago the pro-corrida fans gathered, three thousand strong, in front of the statue of Nimeño II and placed carnations at his feet. It was noted that many local politicians were present, which illustrates the importance of listening to the significant block of voters in this country represented by a political party called le Parti de la Chasse, Pêche, Nature et Traditions (CPNT). Tradition is not trifled with and change comes slowly here. I suspect that the huge Roman arenas in Arles and Nîmes, as well as the numerous smaller arenas throughout the southwest of France, won't go silent anytime soon.(*)
Homage to Nimeño II
Elected officials demonstrating in Nîmes

Sodas and Soft Drinks

In preparing its 2012 Budget, the French Ministry of Finance has announced that it will double the planned tax on sodas and sugar-enhanced soft drinks from 0.01 to 0.02 euro per can. The measure was accepted by the General Assembly and will be up for a global vote on October 25th. It is expected to be passed. This price hike would result in increased tax revenues of 240 million euros a year. These additional revenues will go toward filling the gap in the national health insurance coffers, the government explained.

Rugby Finals

France lost the World Cup Rugby by one point (7-8) against New Zealand in a well-fought match which, some say, the French dominated. It's at times like these that big guys cry, but when a few days later "Les Bleus" were welcomed back at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, where 10,000 fans shouted their support and appreciation for the captain and his players, spirits were restored and it almost seemed that they had brought back the World Cup themselves.

Winning rugby team: New Zealand's All Blacks

(*) To read about the Easter bullfights in Arles in Taking Root in Provence, click here.

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