Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Abandonment Of La Macarena

Most of you will know the Macarena as a song by the Spanish group Los del Rio, but Macarena also has a religious association. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Basilica de Santa María de la Esperanza Macarena in Seville, and a Catholic cult brotherhood of Esperanza Macarena was founded at the end of the sixteenth century.

There are other Macarenas. One is an area of Medellín in Colombia. In the same city there is a bullfighting fiesta called La Macarena and the bullring has this name. There is a Macarena in Mallorca as well. In Felanitx. In 1961, the fraternity Confraria de Macarena was founded, a year after the bullfighting club of Felanitx was formed. La Macarena is, as in Medellín, the name of the town's bullfighting ring.

Felanitx has had a bullring since 1891. It has always been called La Macarena, but the town's bullring is not the original; the current Macarena opened in 1914.

The bullfight, held during the fiestas in August, has not taken place for five years. The chances are that it will never be held again. La Macarena was considered unsafe, the bullfight was stopped and the future of the bullring is a matter of uncertainty.

The bullring's official capacity was 2,150 people but it was regularly flouted; 3,000 people would be admitted. In 2009, the interior ministry (which governs such matters) stated that the bullring could, for safety reasons, hold no more than 1,000 people and that were the bullfight to go ahead and more than 1,000 people to be admitted, the Guardia Civil would intervene and call it off.

The poor condition of La Macarena required investment to bring it up to standard, and it is claimed that it needed only some 90,000 euros spending on it. This was an investment, though, that the owner, Pedro Balañà, a Barcelona-based bullfighting impresario, appeared unwilling to commit to. Indeed, he decided to sell La Macarena, but not at any price. He wanted 900,000 euros for it, twice the amount that Muro town hall paid for that town's bullring when it was acquired from Balañà in 2010. 

Felanitx town hall has made it perfectly clear that it has no intention of paying such an amount. Were it or any other purchaser to buy the bullring, there would still also be the cost of rectifying the arena's deficiencies. Muro town hall was faced with just the same scenario. It paid for the bullring to be brought up to scratch, though (a figure less than that quoted for La Macarena).

Muro's expenditure wasn't, however, greeted with universal support. Muro may have declared itself to be, somewhat defiantly, the town of bullfighting in Mallorca, but what ended up as nearly half a million euros of investment was a highly questionable way to spend council money.

Muro town hall defended the purchase on different grounds. One was that the bullring would be used for other events and not just for the one bullfight which takes place each year. It has been true to its word in this regard but only up to a point. A second justification was to preserve a building that was part of the town's heritage.

Whatever one thinks of the bullfight, the preservation of an historic building (the bullring) is a different issue. But it comes at a cost, and it is not a cost that Felanitx is willing to countenance. Were the arena to be put to good use for purposes other than the bullfight, there might be some justification, but to pay for something that hosts one bullfight a year makes little or no economic sense. To pay nigh on a million euros to have a monument that would still need maintaining also doesn't make a lot of sense.

It has been said that there is a covenant under which, if the bullfight does not take place, the property reverts to the town. Felanitx town hall says it can find no legal proof to back this up. It may also be that the town hall, aware of the declining popularity of and growing public hostility towards bullfighting, doesn't want the political problems that would come with taking on the bullring.

Such concerns didn't deter Muro, but then Muro has set itself up as a defender of bullfighting. In Felanitx, they don't appear to have such strong feelings, so La Macarena is left in limbo, all but abandoned and getting into a gradually worse condition. From a heritage point of view this is a shame, but in other ways it isn't. The shame attached to bullfighting, in Felanitx at least, is not worth spending good money on.

* Photo acknowledgement: La Perplejidad del Buzo (Pedro Alonso) -

Any comments to please.

Index for August 2013

Alcúdia tourist day - 30 August 2013
Ana María Aguiló and language - 28 August 2013
Biomass - 26 August 2013
Bruce Springsteen - 17 August 2013
English and the Balearic Government - 25 August 2013
Felanitx bullring - 31 August 2013
Gibraltar - 6 August 2013
Heat - 9 August 2013
Holiday rentals: illegal offer - 3 August 2013, 7 August 2013, 19 August 2013, 24 August 2013, 27 August 2013, 29 August 2013
Jaume Matas - 22 August 2013
Joan March - 21 August 2013
Kevin Ayers - 18 August 2013
Looky-looky men - 13 August 2013
Magalluf troubles - 20 August 2013
Miss Tourism - 15 August 2013
Pep Aguiló and Twitter - 16 August 2013
Politicians in prison - 4 August 2013
Rajoy addresses parliament - 2 August 2013
Rajoy's gaffe about island of Palma - 12 August 2013
Real Academia Española and dictionary - 8 August 2013
Riots - 14 August 2013
Stern magazine on Mallorca - 10 August 2013
The World cruise ship - 11 August 2013
Tourism promotion transfer of responsibility - 23 August 2013
Trilingualism in Mallorcan education - 5 August 2013
When tourism was cheap - 1 August 2013

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