I miss missing a square. On one of those “cartelazo” afternoons, with a scorching sun that requires a straw hat. From endless beers that only momentarily extinguish a heat that soon insists on returning with more force and causing greater thirst. Socializing with friends and acquaintances and strangers, hugging, kissing, shaking hands, slapping the back, smiling and waving. From entering a single file chatting distractedly with the neighbors behind and in front, while overtaking us the kids and the restless ones in not losing a single second of courtesy, and reaching after many encounters the well-formed square and seeing a sea blue, pink and white, which are the predominant colors on the shirts of all fans.
The band already attacks the festive music and in the stands there is a bustle close to the collective dance. Among those who are seated, those who are standing, those who circulate in search of places, those who get up to let others pass, those who sit in alien places and have to return to their original seats (which have also been usurped by third parties), those who raise their arms to pass with cigarettes, cigars, beers, gin tonic, fresh water, pies, potatoes, popcorn and other snacks, or simply to say goodbye to someone across the square, and even those who they walk around with buckets selling cheeses and soft drinks, there seems to be a well-rehearsed choreography to the sound of “pasodobles”. Everything is party, riot, laughter and applause. Everyone greets the favorite bullfighter, who has been known for a long time, and this one from the square reciprocates with a generic smile for everyone and no one, as this feeling of familiarity is not reciprocal for the artist. There are only two states in the trenches: lethargy or ecstasy. The former enjoy those who are not in action (other bullfighters and pitchforks, the seized, officials, photographers, friends and supporters) and the latter suffer all who are directly or indirectly in the square. There will be no more appropriate name for this refuge than a trench, as it is for the struggle that the valiant artists go when they leave for the square. Pitchforks, more than anyone else, are filled with fear when the time comes, when the corporal fixes their eyes and says to them: “you go to that one!”. There they no longer think or feel, they just live.
They hear the ringing sound and cross themselves three times. They pray to God and Our Lord and the Virgin Mary. And to all the saints of Heaven, and to their mother and the girlfriend and godmother of the group. And her lips sing in silence the verses, lent to the bullfighters, of the most chaste of the poets – Maria Manuel Cid: “Bullfighter who enters the arena / your small figure / goes to the death / and your heart suffers / praying to God a prayer / luck for your luck. ”. And they jump to the square. Sepulchral silence, even the birds are silent, time stands still. Only two do not freeze: the bull and the pitchfork face down. In all of this, and besides having to catch bullfighting, he cannot show fear and must behave as an artist. You should look fine and quote with grace. Do not make sudden gestures. What is forgiven to a bullfighter is not forgiven to a pitchfork. That one has all the distractions in the world, the music, the palms on each iron, the howls and cheers, the conversations between spectators. This one has only you and the bullfight and the silence and the verses of the poet: “From this felt prayer / your life will depend / from divine protection. / When the faena begins / the square becomes small / and your heart is big.” . Hands on hips, she advances solemnly with well-measured steps and surrenders to the bullfight. And everything lasts less than an instant. Without knowing how, he already grabbed the bullfight, the group has already fallen on him and the crowd is already screaming and applauding in sync with the band. Time is running again and the birds chirping starts again, but it is inaudible with so much noise. It seems that the world is measured by each catch and time is suspended when the pitchfork faces the bull. The end of the race is no less confusing than the beginning, with everyone jostling to get to the exit first. The taurean artists' farewell party is only seen by a handful of upstarts and by one or the other with mobility problems.
This is not a show, it is a way of looking at life. It is the materialization of the effort of many people for many years, who work and practice and create in the field, so that they can later present their talents and assets in the square. It is our connection to rurality, to true Portugal, to a natural ordering of things long before the national identity itself.
To want to end bullfighting is to want to end the Portuguese and our culture. Because culture is not just what a minority who see animals equal to or above people and some people below animals define as such. What would happen to the angry bull, an animal so noble and so fond of human affairs? He would be condemned to extinction or the category of species in the process of, because the genetic improvement he suffered over so many years as a combat animal would be of no use if he were caged in a zoo waiting for the little one to throw peanuts at his horns. The same could be said of cows, or sheep or horses. Would they all be converted into museum attractions?
To the party leader who recently dreamed of artists inside Campo Pequeno and bullfighters out there handcuffed, not refusing to exclaim afterwards “How wonderful!” – and that he had already left us with other pearls, such as considering bullfighting as the greatest manifestation of human cowardice – I remind him that the democracy that elected him and that allows him to say these barbarities in the public space is the same that requires him to have respect for the three million Portuguese who are passionate and for the thousands who work in the bullfighting sector and guarantee that bullfighting races in Portugal take place under the most scrupulous legality. I remind you that the legal system that allows you to sit in the Assembly of the Republic and recognizes all the rights, freedoms and guarantees of a Portuguese citizen and a representative of the nation is the same that guarantees free access to culture and defines the bullfighting shows as such (proof of this is the recent unconstitutional appreciation of the decision by the Póvoa de Varzim City Council to ban bullfighting in the municipality). I remind you that the freedom that allows you to have dissenting opinions from the majority and fanaticisms such as presenting bills that penalize animal mistreatment with a penalty greater than that of voluntary homicide is the same for those who think differently from their minority. It is not just me who say it, it is also Isabel Moreira (yes, Isabel Moreira), about her recent statements: “whoever has an appreciation for democracy hears or reads this and is horrified. PAN is a populist and dangerous party ”. It is nothing that surprises us now, because the offensive declarations of so many Portuguese and the rural world follow each other with such speed that its exhaustive list becomes impossible. Freedom is not the exclusive property of minorities, but his fanatical, hateful, totalitarian, anti-democratic, dictatorial speeches and with a blurred view of reality and what the rural world is about seem to make him not the owner, but the author of freedom. With the power to choose what to like or dislike, what to consider as a professional activity or not, about what culture is and what is not, about what people can and cannot see on television. The lessons of freedom should not be given to anyone, but it is certain that they cannot be received. For a party that promotes a poll on bullfighting (which took place last week), sees the results pointing to a defeat for itself, still makes a desperate attempt to publish over its poll the answer it wishes to see voted, with total contempt for the suffrage. democratic and impartial (the tip for the next elections is to put over the ballot papers in clearly visible letters: “VOTA PAN”), and yet it ends up being defeated by bullfighting in inhospitable terrain, not making the losers wait for getting an endless number of excuses for the bad result, it is a party without any democratic sense.
Something from the above could also serve the Minister of Culture, who has such a visceral hatred for bullfighting that it prevents her from practically uttering the word bullfighting. It is a hatred that already borders on madness or even superstition, since another reason would explain why he refused a cap of forcado on his recent visit to Santarém if not the fear of being soiled by this verdigris (immortalized by Ary dos Santos in “Fado da Lezíria ”), or perhaps the risk of excommunication from your beloved“ civilization ”or, worst of all, the fear of“ apathy ”being transmitted by osmosis? In Elvas, my city, the most sensible attitude had the “noble wrinkle on the border” as António Sardinha would say, when he accepted the book “Campo Pequeno – 125 in the Heart of Lisbon” with the pertinent appeal of the Group of Forcado Amadores Academicos de Elvas: "Courage and impartiality (…) to defend the identity and traditions of an entire people".
This is also what I ask the Minister to be impartial in the return of all shows. Because in front of you there are all these people who are incredulous at the opening of Campo Pequeno with a large capacity for a comedy show, but still without bullfighting. And with the curros' doors closed. And no music band. Or cheese vendors. Finally, without the realization of the most masterful national artistic show: the Portuguese bullfighting race. She is not obliged to come, but the Taurean world would welcome her …