Last Sunday, during the Bulls in the Street festival — an event considered to be a smaller version of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, a horrifying development took place which has brought even more controversy to Spain’s tradition of bullfighting. In the town of Foios, Valencia, a crowd tied a bull to a post in the middle of the square and lit its horns on fire. Once released, the panicked bull then ran headfirst into the post and was killed instantly.
The footage was uploaded by the Spanish animal-rights organization Bulls Defenders United. Animal rights activists have condemned the tradition of bullfighting, whereas proponents (many of whom work in high levels of government) say the cultural heritage of the country must be respected. As NPR points out, only 19% of Spanish adults are in favor of bullfighting. In fact, in many recent years, a number of Spanish towns have attempted to ban the spectacle.
A total ban on bullfighting in Spain will be a long time coming, however. This is because, in 2013, the Spanish Congress granted bullfighting a cultural heritage status, reports The Telegraph. Even in 2016, when the autonomous region of Catalunya attempted to ban bullfighting, the initiative was struck down by Spain’s highest court. As of now, the practice is legally protected from being banned locally by any region in Spain.
It is this decision that has irked most animal rights activists. In a joint statement, PETA, Humane Society International and the World Society for the Protection of Animals wrote: “This move is a cynical attempt by a desperate bullfighting industry to secure the future of this dying industry. Bullfighting is cruel and outdated and has no place in a modern society; culture stops where cruelty starts.”
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