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Desde Afuera, Hacia Adentro: The Bulls in Tijuana and the World

Author: Mark Schwarz
Created: 12 June, 2015
Updated: 13 September, 2023
4 min read

Tijuana: The first of the so-called “Corridas de Oportunidad” takes place this Sunday at Tijuana’s Monumental Bullring by the Sea. Casa Toreros—whose self-described mission is to return el toreo to those pueblos where vibrant taurine traditions once thrived, and to preserve its authenticity “for the people” –has designed several cartels with real possibilities for great toreo and compelling personal stories. A brief sketch of the toreros for this week, and the over/under for their potential success:

CastanedaCesar Castaneda; born in Tijuana, Castaneda was another of the city’s flirtations with taurine relevance in the early 90s. Telegenic and personable (he has made something of a living appearing on Tijuana tourism commercials and doing “Dancing with the Stars” type shows), Castaneda is finished now as any kind of a hot property. His legitimate potential was usually sold to the lowest bidder in trying to angle his way into the “major league” circuit during one of the most depressing eras of modern Mexican toreo, but his appeals to the lowest common denominator style of cheap visual tricks undermined confidence in his greater abilities, and he was never able to shake the tag of “tremendista”…Nothing will be gained by a triumph, nor lost, so Castaneda’s bank here is that he comes from Tijuana—and comes very cheaply.

MoraVictor Mora—from Aguascalientes, Mexico, perhaps Mexico’s most taurine city, Mora is also a member of the “lost generation”; years in which a veritable legion of poorly prepared, poorly supported and poorly promoted Mexican toreros lost the better part of their productive and creative lives searching for the Holy Grail that was denied to them out of the lack of vision and rampant nepotism of the managerial infrastructure. Too few opportunities and too few connections left Mora, who is legitimately talented, without sufficient practice to perfect a style that most of the aficion believe characterize him as “gente”—someone important. Like Castaneda, he is past his prime years; different from Castaneda, his deep talent can still move the masses, if a bull cooperates.

LopezAlejandro Lopez– also from Aguascalientes, Lopez is a recent (2013) doctorate who has received positive press from a series of actions in the small rings around the city. He is known as a “torero de los tres tercios”—an all-around torero, inclined to take risks to make sure that no one goes away indifferent. His over/under may be all too literal; this is a grand opportunity for Lopez, one he can’t afford to waste; his limited experience and the pressure to triumph at almost any cost could mean that he’ll spend more time on top of or below the bull than in front…stay tuned.

GodoyOliver Godoy-from Jalisco, another state with a long taurine tradition, Godoy is a young version of Mora, with all the upside that youth has on the career ladder. His “buenas maneras”—classical and refined style will find an audience in Tijuana if he draws a bull that allows such work. Not likely to throw caution to the wind, Godoy is a dark horse candidate to steal his way into the final “Corrida de Triunfadores” on Sunday, August 30.

Ernesto Javier, “Calita”– Javier, born in D.F., “Calita”s father was also a matador who guided his son’s first steps in the profession. Ernesto debuted in Mexico in 2004 and later moved to Spain, where he enrolled and performed Javierunder the auspices of the Escuela Taurina de Sevilla. He has performed well in Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona, three of the most important plazas in the world, and just this year has enjoyed significant triumphs in small but important Mexican fairs such as “La Petatera” in Colima and San Miguel el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico, and Maracay, Venezuela. His upside is significant, as his style combines elements both classical and “tremendista”—and a solid technical base that confer a great confidence in the ring. If I were a bettin’ man, “Calita” would be one of the three toreros most likely to return for the August 30 appearances.

FraustoRicardo Frausto-Frausto made his Tijuana debut last year, appearing with “Zotoluco” and Octavio Garcia, “El Payo”, cutting one ear and losing another—at least—through embarrassing (he literally MISSED the WHOLE BULL making the first entry to his last bull following a solid performance) and stood out alongside two of the acknowledged masters of the current scene. This appearance, along with those of Brandon Campos (July 19) and “Calita” are LONG overdue.

Cartels for San Sebastian: The newly re-inaugurated Plaza de Toros del Illumbe, in San Sebastian, Spain, has released the official program for the four corridas that will comprise the first “Semana Grande” in over two years, which is undoubtedly one of the most encouraging bits of news for toreo in the long agony of the European economic crisis. They are as follows:

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– Thursday, August 13: Enrique Ponce, Paquirri y José María Manzanares (Torrestrella).
– Friday, August 14: Hermoso, El Juli y Miguel Ángel Perera (Garcigrande).
– Saturday, August 15: Morante, Sebastián Castella y Talavante (Juan Pedro Domecq).
– Sunday August 16: Ferrera, Diego Urdiales y Paco Ureña (Victorino Martín).

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