Protest in Madrid against bullfighting

Animal rights activists in Madrid protesting against Spain's centuries-old, but controversial, tradition of bullfighting last Saturday.
Animal rights activists in Madrid protesting against Spain's centuries-old, but controversial, tradition of bullfighting last Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • Thousands of Spaniards took to the streets of Madrid over the weekend to demand an end to the centuries-old, but controversial, tradition of bullfighting.

The protesters held up banners saying "Bullfighting, the school of cruelty" and "Bullfighting, a national shame".

A spokesman for the Party Against the Ill-Treatment of Animals said it was "time to end bullfighting and all other bloody spectacles".

"Bulls feel and they suffer," said Ms Chelo Martin Pozo, 39, from Seville, who was in Madrid for the rally. "Bullfights are a national shame and if they represent me, then I am not Spanish," she said.

Last Saturday's protest came after the anti-bullfighting lobby successfully managed to obtain a ban on a famous festival that ended with a bull being speared to death.

The regional government of Castilla y Leon in June banned the killing of bulls at town festivals, in a move targeting the region's controversial Toro de la Vega festival, where horsemen chase a bull and spear it in front of onlookers.

A number of protests in favour of the controversial pastime have been held recently, such as one in the eastern city of Valencia, a major bullfighting city, which drew thousands of people in March. Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, meanwhile, has banned the tradition of setting bulls loose with lighted torches attached to their horns called bous embolats.

Leading Spanish daily El Pais last week said 1,736 bullfights had been staged in the country last year, or 132 fewer than in 2014.

But supporters are not giving up without a struggle. They see bullfighting as an art that is an integral part of Spanish culture, like flamenco.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Protest in Madrid against bullfighting'. Print Edition | Subscribe