Clifton Ross's blog

The Crisis in Bolivia: Cleaning Up the Bull Ring

Clifton Ross

September 19, 2008

The bull, among the Persian Zoroastrians as well as the Huichol people of Mexico, represents the sun which comes to earth and bleeds to give life to the earth. This powerful creature is a symbol, therefore, of divine power which is willing to bleed for the good of humanity and all life. In Hispanic (meaning, Spanish and Spanish (speaking) America) the running of the bulls is an exciting and dangerous festival where the Anglo game of Chicken takes on the bulk of a mighty mammal with horns and mighty power. In some places, like rural Ecuador, it’s usually a game of young men with too much testosterone jumping in a makeshift bullring with a puzzled bull and antagonizing it until it charges. The bull usually has something tied to its back – it might also be just a rope girding the bull -- and the young man daring, stealthy or stupid enough to untie the knot wins a prize. In the stands are hordes of spectators, all secretly hoping the bull will gore someone and they may even witness a death as they eat fried fava beans or peanuts and swill their favorite drinks. The game never stops as one bull follows another and the young men do their best to get its attention for just enough time to be pursued just so far. Virtually no one ever unties the knot and wins a prize since most of the young men who were driven into the ring by testosterone, flee it just as quickly in a rush of adrenaline when the bull charges.

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Clifton Ross is the special correspondent for Encuentros de Las Americas a research and education project co-sponsored by TREC, CENSA and City Lights Books.


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