The national insurance company is reminding those holiday bull fighters that they need insurance coverage.
They sure do. These are the participants called toreros y montadores improvisados who get in the ring with a fighting bull for the benefit of an audience and, in come cases, an international television audience.
Bull baiting stems from colonial times, but it was not until 2008 that the executive branch decreed that insurance was necessary. The Instituto Nacional de Seguros offers the policies. Private insurance companies have not shown the desire to do likewise.
The Instituto Nacional provides a package that covers accidental death, total or partial disability and medical costs for an accident. The policy comes as a package, and those who participate in the ring cannot pick and choose.
In recent years operators of bull rings, such as the one in Zapote have cracked down on the use of alcohol by bull baiters. The Zapote festival starts again Christmas Day.
Each year there are deaths of bull baiters, usually in festivals and fairs distant from San José.
Some of the participants are compensated because they take collections from the audience, particularly on behalf of a colleague who has just been carried off to the resident aid station.
Some of the participants have been doing this for years and wear distinctive clothing the let fans follow their antics.
Luckily bulls have short attention spans and usually can be
distracted from chasing down a targeted subject by a slap on the rump.
The bull fighters may be amateurs, but the bulls are not. These critters weigh in over 1,000 pounds, and some have leaped from the bull ring into the bleachers, thereby causing a massive exit.
More frequently it is the bull baiter who takes a trip into the bleachers, propelled there by the horns and massive neck of a fighting bull.
During the last Zapote festival bulls injured 169 and sent 46 persons to hospitals, said the Cruz Roja.