Huamantlada: Bullfighting in Mexico with a passion and Spanish flavor

Bullfighting passion crosses borders, and in Mexico, there is a town where bullfights and running of the bulls are the hallmarks of patron saint fiestas in the purest Spanish style. It is the "Huamantlada" in the central state of Tlaxcala.

"One says Huamantla and immediately thinks about bulls, fighting bulls" points out to Efe Dolores Valdivieso, a tourist from Cancun. Stock image
"One says Huamantla and immediately thinks about bulls, fighting bulls" points out to Efe Dolores Valdivieso, a tourist from Cancun. Stock image

The third fireworks mark the beginning of the Huamantlada. It is 11 a.m. (16.00 GMT) and under the powerful rays of the sun 17 caste bulls take to the streets before the curious gaze of thousands of locals and visitors. They have been waiting for up to two hours for the beginning of this spectacle.

"We arrived very early to set aside place because it is a party where thousands of people congregate. We got an excellent place to enjoy this brave party," says to Efe Orlando Nava, who arrived in the morning with his wife and two daughters.

About 100,000 people come to this event dressed for the occasion: red handkerchief tied to the neck, waist girdle and the most daring do not hesitate to wear hats with horns and all kinds of accessories.

In a closed circuit of 17 streets is carried out the traditional street race with a bull in each street. Professionals from the bullfighting world and amateurs take advantage of this event to "make their pins" in the world of bullfighting.

In general, the participants who are at the foot of the street seek to run in front of the brave bull, touch it or, with improvised hoods, bullfight it. Others see the bulls "from behind the barrier".

Minutes before the explosion of the first firecracker Gerardo, originally from Puebla, says that every year, for the last five years, he comes to the Huamantlada home of a "compadre" to see the show.

There is no lack of the reckless one who, with a few too many drinks, jumps into the "street ring" pretending to be a first-rate matador. The result is, at best, minor injuries and contusions; at worst, death.

For this, there are lists in the vicinity of the streets of downtown Huamantla 40 ambulances, 100 paramedics, 20 doctors and the orthopedic service of Huamantla Hospital on alert with a specialized surgeon.

This year, nine people between the ages of 13 and 60 have been reported injured, one of them seriously, with a goring in the thorax.

"We recommend that they do not enter the circuit in an ethylic state," says Cristian Salazar, who has been part of the Huamantlada for 10 years as a supporting caporal. Its function is to release the bull, keep it at the end and return it to the livestock.

His love for bulls made him an active part of this show. Two years ago he suffered a goring of which he still has scars.

"When I was holding the bull it defeated me in the race and reached me and the horn entered, in the left leg. It was a goring of 15 centimeters high, 8 internal points and 15 external ones" he says to Efe.

A stuffed bull in the middle of the street attracts the attention of visitors, who do not hesitate to immortalize the moment.

"Listening to many tourists we decided to build a bull and present it in the streets representing the Huamantlada so that people can take pictures without the risk of being gored, an accident" declares Elizabeth Zapata Ángeles, owner of the stuffed bull.

In the Huamantlada, improvised mockers along the streets, platforms made sometimes by the same neighbors or boards that serve as seats, prove every year that miracles exist.

August, no doubt, is for those fortunate enough to live or have venues on the streets of the circuit. Depending on the place, whether it is on the street, on the roof of a house or on the balcony or windows, the price to see the show ranges from 50 to 200 pesos (two to 10 dollars).

The origin of the Huamantlada goes back to 1954 when Raúl González, a cattleman from Tlaxcala, traveled to Spain together with a matador and visited the running of the bulls of Pamplona in San Fermín. Gonzalez began this tradition in Huamantla on his return.

At first, the bulls ran through the streets to the Plaza de Toros, where hours later the bullfight was held. Given the massification of the event, in 1967 it was established that the running of the bulls was not the same as those of the bullfight. From that moment on, the so-called "Pamplonada" is called "Huamantlada".

The bullfighting tradition came to Tlaxcala with the Spaniards. It is the smallest state in Mexico and the one with the most cattle ranches, with 48 in total, in addition to 6 bullfighting schools that drive the passion for the fiesta brava.


Recommended stories


The Environment Commission of the Chamber of Deputies is considering an initiative to reform the General Law of Ecological Balance and Protection of the Environment, to prohibit bullfighting because "it is a spectacle of violence and contempt towards animals".

After the approval of the legislation in the local congress, Quintana Roo becomes the fourth state in Mexico to prohibit bullfighting along with Sonora, Guerrero, and Coahuila. But in the legislative decision, which came into force this year, not only was this practice that the Spaniards bequeathed to Mexico, but also the cockfights were abolished.

In fact, initially the law provided only include the case of cockfighting, but during the same session of the extraordinary session of the local congress were added bullfights to prohibition.

The Congress of Quintana Roo informed through a communiqué that the new legislation takes proposals from civil society gathered in the public work tables, among them the prohibition of "acts that imply suffering or harm such as bullfights and fights of roosters."

"This law contains measures to carry out actions that promote the culture of protection of animals, as well as their dignified and respectful treatment, as well as rules for the breeding, sale, and exhibition of animals. animal protection matters, as well as the procedure for the capture of abandoned or lost animals," the statement continues.

In Sonora, in the north of the country, the local deputies decided to banish this practice in 2013. A year later it happened in Guerrero, while in Coahuila it was vetoed in 2015.

However, it contrasts that in the states of Aguascalientes, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Querétaro, Tlaxcala and Zacatecas this activity is considered as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Unesco.

In social networks, the ban has been generally well-received. Websites and organizations of animal affinity have unanimously celebrated the ban, such as Peta Latino or Comer Vegano.

By Mexicanist