This incredible photo marks the end of Matador Torero Alvaro Munera’s career. He collapsed in remorse mid-fight when he realized he was having to prompt this otherwise gentle beast to fight. He went on to become an avid opponent of bullfights. Even grievously wounded by picadors, he did not attack this man.
Torrero Munera is quoted as saying of this moment: “And suddenly, I looked at the bull. He had this innocence that all animals have in their eyes, and he looked at me with this pleading. It was like a cry for justice, deep down inside of me. I describe it as being like a prayer - because if one confesses, it is hoped, that one is forgiven. I felt like the worst shit on earth.”
Claim: Photograph shows the moment torero Álvaro Múnera became an opponent of bullfights.
Origins: The career of eighteen-year-old Columbian torero Álvaro Múnera (known by the nickname “El Pilarico”) ended when he was gored by a bull during a bullfight in 1984, with the resultant spinal cord and cranial injuries leaving him paralyzed. Múnera has since become a council member in his hometown of Medellín, a position from which he advocates for the rights of the disabled and promotes anti-bullfighting campaigns.
The widely circulated photograph displayed above purports to have captured Múnera at the very moment, in the middle of a bullfight, when he came to the realization that what he was doing was an injustice to animals and decided to henceforth campaign against bullfighting. Although Múnera did undergo such a conversion, this photo doesn’t depict the instant of his change of heart, for a number of reasons:
- Múnera didn’t undergo his epiphany against bullfighting in the middle of a bullfight; he stopped participating in that activity only when he was forced out of the ring for good after a goring permanently paralyzed him.
- The posture shown in the photograph is not one of a torero collapsing or expressing contrition; rather, it’s a common posture of desplante (defiance), a bit of showmanship in which the torero indicates his total domination of the bull by taking up what appears to be a dangerous position in front of the animal’s horns. (Also, the quotation that accompanies the photograph was not spoken by Múnera; it is the work of Spanish writer Antonio Gala, who was not himself a torero.)
- As detailed at The Last Arena blog, this photograph isn’t a picture of Múnera at all, but rather a photo of some other torero.
When I first read this post I was deeply moved. However, I wanted to read more about the incident. Something was bothering me about it. A simple googling of “Alvaro Munera” led me to Snopes, which then led me to a post on Alexander Fiske-Harrison’s blog The Last Arena. Now something else is bothering me.
I am not a fan of bullfighting, but I am a big fan of the truth. Get your story straight, folks.
I cannot decide whether this is misinformation or disinformation, but I have always been fervently opposed to the distortion of truth in furtherance of any moral or political agenda. If your argument can’t stand on its own merits, it isn’t worth supporting. If it can, lies will only undermine it.
It is interesting to note how the emotionally driven interpretation of an image, or a story, can lead to some very convenient misapprehensions. This type of hook has been used by agenda drivers since ancient times. We see this sort of thing just about every day on the internet and in the media. Seems we never learn.