As ethical opposition to bullfighting grows in Europe, an army of its practitioners has crossed the ocean to Latin America — and especially to Peru, where the number of bullfights has tripled in recent years.
The high-profile corridas take place in Lima, but the sport’s true hotbed is high-elevation, low-population pueblos. In San Pablo, an annual religious festival celebrating the birthday of the patron San Juan is spiked with the graceful choreography of men and beasts, continuing to conjoin worship and sacrifice, death and the dance.
San Pablo’s weeklong celebration is one of a number of local events conflating John the Baptist’s birth and the Festival of the Sun. The corrida occurs inside the brand new bullring positioned at the towns entrance. As it has been for many generations, the entire town arrives dressed as if they are going to church on a Sunday.
The bulls used at corridas in rural villages are typically older; while less dramatic, older bulls are also unpredictable and more dangerous. And since most matadors are not from the Ceja De Selva (the eyebrow of the jungle) region of the Andes, which rises to nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, they must adapt quickly to the altitude lest they become the bulls’ prey.
Banderillero Jose Antonio Vera, nicknamed ‘Verita.’
Banderilleros lure the bulls without the aid of a cape, relying solely on their agility.
After dodging a few glass bottles that are thrown by the crowd A picador is trampled by the bull. The Picador is the first member of the cuadrilla ( a matador’s group of assistants) to face the bull, the picador uses a long lance to initially wound the animal, giving the matador an unfair advantage. Hence, a picador’s entrance into the ring is often met with boos and a flurry of spectator thrown projectiles.