Interviews & Editorials / From the Archives: El Juli in Yucatan

From the Archives: El Juli in Yucatan

From the Archives: El Juli in Yucatan

1 February 2010 Video, Interviews & Editorials, CULTURE 10

Julian Lopez Escobar, known as "El Juli", was a child prodigy of the bullring. He began his career at the tender age of six and became the youngest Matador de Toros in history by fifteen. Although born in Spain and trained at the Madrid Academy of Tauromachy, he achieved the status of Matador de Toros in Mexico because he was too young under Spanish law. For this reason, he has often toured the Plazas de Toros of Mexico, and on January 31st, 2003, he came to Monumental Aviles, the bullring in Motul, Yucatan.

We knew nothing of El Juli and very little about bullfighting at the time, but our neighbor Ramon, who as a young man had worked at the Plaza de Toros in Mexico City, encouraged us to go. To help us understand and perhaps even appreciate what La Corrida (bullfighting) was all about, he gave us the book, Or I'll Dress You In Mourning, which is the biography of "El Cordobes", the most famous torero (bullfighter) of the last century.

La Corrida is one of many Spanish traditions brought to Mexico after the conquest. It is probably the last public ritual animal sacrifice practiced today in the western world. It is pageantry, theatre, sport, metaphor and an acquired taste for very few gringos aficionados. We were captivated by the El Cordobes biography and joined Ramon that day in Motul, bringing our cameras along as always.

About two years later, El Juli suffered a "grave" goring of his right thigh, which is a common cause of fatality in toreros if the femoral artery is cut. He quickly recovered, but over the years, he has had numerous conflicts with his managers and promoters. At one point he sued Shakira over unauthorized use of his performances in a music video. These controversies, and maybe the effects of too early fame and achievement, eclisped El Juli's star for a time.

On January 31st, 2010, exactly eight years after we saw him, El Juli staged a "triumphant" return to Mexico at the Plaza de Toros Monumental in Mexico City before a crowd of 35,000. Quite by coincidence, while looking for blank tape stock, we "discovered" the video we took that day in 2003. After some editing to conform to YouTube's 10 minute limit, we are posting it for those few gringos aficionados and Yucatecans who may appreciate it. For anyone else, please do not watch this video nor leave the usual comments. We already know.

El Juli's Website


  • Greg 13 years ago

    Very nice video. Thanks.

  • Jan van Engelen 13 years ago

    To all readers who respect life and the joy it can give to you and others. Please think about it 2 times before visiting an event like this. You're contributing to useless animal suffering.
    Even in Spain, the origin of bullfighting, there are many who are opposed to these medieval practices where animals are suffering for the entertainment of people. Fortunately also many Mexicans are not amused anymore with this kind of entertainment. Everybody can have free choice, but please think twice!

  • Amber 13 years ago

    Ok, being a lifelong horse person I have to say...
    My favorite part of the entire video is at the beginning with the team of 3 mules. I love that they used feather dusters on their heads! Superb re-purposing! It's what Mexico is absolutely best at!

  • Working Gringos 13 years ago

    You know, we did write this:

    "...we are posting it for those few gringos aficionados and Yucatecans who may appreciate it. For anyone else, please do not watch this video nor leave the usual comments. We already know."

  • landcrab 13 years ago

    Wow, with all the efforts of this webpage to adopt cats and dogs.....maybe you should start showing opportunities to adopt a bull. I realize that bull fighting is a cultural thing, but it is also one of the most cruel things done to an animal that I have ever seen. The poor bull doesn't stand a chance.

  • Rebecca Augustin 13 years ago

    Is there a bullfight in Merida anytime between February 13-17? Thank you.

  • YucaGringo 13 years ago

    Thanks for the article and video. I was fortunate enough to see El Juli back in 2005 in a mano y mano vs. the Mexican matador El Zotoluco. El Juli had trouble with the "kill" that day and in my opinion El Zotoluco was the better of the two.
    Another good publication on bullfighting is the book by Earnest Hemingway, "Death in the Afternoon".
    Again, thanks for the article and video!!!!

  • Brenda Armstrong 13 years ago

    Thank you for the article and the video. My husband and I were fortunate to have a guide in Mexico City who had been a torero as a young man. He shared some of his experiences and took us to a restaurant near the Plaza de toros in DF during the several years we had the pleasure of his company. The dance of life (and death) is performed in many ways in different cultures. We are most appreciative that he opened our eyes to a broader understanding.

  • susan loeppky 13 years ago

    I am speechless.

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