What Happens in Mexico… Should Stay in Mexico?

By: Lisa Coleman

So last Saturday I’m reading the paper. It wasn’t a particularly eventful news day, just the usual politics, war and senseless crime articles tempered with a nod to the struggling real estate market. But then, an article catches my eye: “In Mexico, dwarf bullfighting a spectacle and a staple.” Now I am not making this up, dwarf bullfighting is a VERY popular sport in Mexico. Let me share an excerpt:

“Matador Ignacio Zaragoza raised his wooden sword at a fighting calf that was nearly as tall as he was. It pawed the ground, Zaragoza flicked his cape, and the beast rocketed toward him. “Ole!” shouted the crowd, as Zaragoza spun away, knelt on his short legs, and snapped the cape again. “Ole! Ole!”

It’s a spectacle repeated on weekends across Mexico, as troupes of dwarf bullfighters thrill audiences at fairs, patron-saint festivals and nightclubs. Some of them tour the United States, where they bring a dose of nostalgia to Mexican migrants from Oregon to Florida.

Although some activists worry that they propagate stereotypes, the troupes — known as cuadrillas — provide steady jobs in a country where employment discrimination is rampant and people with disabilities have trouble getting work. ”

Apparently, the Original Bullfighting Dwarfs of Mexico was founded 13 years ago. Now there are 10 to 20 bullfighting troupes employing about 200 little people nationwide, said Rigoberto Madrigal, president of the Little People of Mexico, a support group for people with dwarfism. According to the article, “Competition among groups is intense, so many cuadrillas have added other attractions to their shows. The Bullfighting Dwarfs of Torreon jump through burning hoops on all-terrain vehicles. The Bullfighting Dwarfs of Guadalajara pride themselves on singing and impersonations.”

The good news is, unlike real bullfights, the animals are not harmed. However, the whole idea of this somehow makes me squirm. And it shouldn’t. I guess I can’t get past the spectacle of the thing. But, in their defense, these are adult men who can make their own decisions about career choices. The interesting thing about this phenomenon is that it truly exemplifies a particular and intriguing freedom only found in Mexico. The U.S. is so wrapped up in what is politically correct and what should or should not be deemed as acceptable, that we forget all people have rights. And if dwarfs want to fight bulls… I say OLE! Whether or not the visual is uncomfortable for me or not, I love that Mexico embraces dwarf bullfighting. I love a country that openly allows, and promotes, total freedom for these people. Viva Mexico!

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