An Ex-Bullfighter Tells His Story
INTERVIEW BY TONI L. QUEROL
PHOTO COURTESY OF ÁLVARO MÚNERA
A bull named Terciopelo [Velvet] gored the Colombian bullfighter Álvaro Múnera, aka “El Pilarico,” in 1984, confining him to a wheelchair for life. Múnera was 18 years old back then. His best friend, “El Yiyo,” was gored to death months later, and the manager of both bullfighters committed suicide three years after that.
Múnera became a hardcore animal rights defender and nothing less than the Antichrist for tauromachy [the art of bullfighting] aficionados. He currently works in the Council of the City of Medellín, using his position to defend the rights of disabled people and to promote anti-bullfighting campaigns.
vice.com: How did you decide to be a bullfighter?
Álvaro Múnera: I was born in Medellín, where my dad had taken me to see bullfights since I was four years old. The atmosphere at home was totally pro-taurino [taurino is the Spanish adjective for everything relating to bullfighting culture]. We didn’t talk about football or any other thing, it was just bulls. Bullfighting was the center of the world for my dad. Since I grew up immersed in this taurino atmosphere, it was logical that at the age of 12, I decided to be a bullfighter.