Getting ready to listen to a radio interview with Álvaro Múnera—who was once known as “El Pilarico” (Spanish for “the star bullfighter”)—I was prepared to hate him. But after Múnera was gored by a bull and became confined to a wheelchair, he reflected on his cruel past with sincere regret and renounced bullfighting. Today, this vegetarian animal defender is working to ban the deadly pastime.
In a forthright conversation with Radio Netherlands, Múnera recounted how his father’s expectations and the public’s misguided admiration pushed him to continue killing bulls, despite his misgivings about stabbing the animals to death. He is haunted by the animals he killed—particularly one “practice” cow whom he watched die (and who, he later learned, carried a calf in her womb) and a bull who fought to live even after a sword pierced his body and came out the other side. Múnera feels genuine sorrow for the animals whose lives he took, and his story exemplifies how a person’s heart and mindset can change.
Written by Jennifer O’Connor