PROVINCIA DE VALENCIA – The fact that three people have been killed during village festivals in Spain where bulls are used as entertainment has made the international press. Moreover, it is not the first time that people have lost their lives after being impaled on a bull’s horn in Spain.
Of course it is traumatic for the victims and their relatives, let there be no misunderstanding about that. However, the suffering could have been avoided if authorities had listened more closely to animal advocacy groups such as PETA. For years they have called for an end to these types of festivities. Frightened and injured bulls have to provide entertainment for often drunk and naive revellers.
Unlike the bullfights for which Spain is partly known, at the village festivals, there is not much control. During a bullfight, the audience sits safely in the stands. Meanwhile, the ‘torero’ knowingly risks his life, aside from the suffering he inflicts on the bull. However, during village festivities, which usually take place in the summer, a few fighting bulls are released into the streets. At the same time, people who feel the need for hero status or just an adrenaline rush run ahead of these terrified and worked-up animals. Often, that’s where things go wrong.
San Fermin in Pamplona
The most famous example of this is the bull run in Pamplona during the San Fermín celebrations. Every day for a week, groups run ahead of the bulls until they reach the bullring. These are often young men which hope to remain unscathed during the 850 metres run. However, the bulls are still killed once they get there. Since 1911, at least 16 runners have lost their lives in that event. This year a number of participants were injured.
The three fatalities
Elsewhere in Spain, three victims were injured in the last two weeks by bulls. However, they all died in quick succession earlier this week. In the Valencia region, it concerned two Spaniards, aged 50 and 56. They are no longer able to retell their ‘bous al carrer’. The third fatality was a French tourist in his 60s. The man was seriously injured after colliding with a bull in Pedreguer earlier this month. Subsequently, he was taken to a hospital in critical condition, and later died.
“The bull is an animal and people risk accidents”
In response to the three fatalities, the regional government of Valencia has reiterated they are reminding the villages that organise these ‘bous al carrers’ that the rules must be respected. Especially in view of the fact that no fewer than 16 villages organised these bull runs last Saturday.
Two of the three fatalities, Picassent and Meliana, did not cancel the rest of the scheduled events. The city council of Meliana says the event complies with all safety measures. “The bull is an animal and people risk the kind of accidents that happened,” Mayor Josep Antoni Riera told RTVE.es.
The Meliana Association of Bullfighting Clubs also states that both the festival council and the volunteers are “working on safety protocol throughout the year”.
These “barbaric” events must come to an end
PETA Vice President Mimi Bekhechi commented: “Three more people killed and many more bulls stabbed to death in the ring after the ‘encierro’ could be added to the long list of urgent reasons why bullfighting in Valencia and the rest of Spain should be banned. Before these “fights” in the bullring, the bulls run amok and attack in a fit of panic. Meanwhile the people, desperate to prove their guts, join them in extreme dangerous runs. There must be an end to these barbaric events rooted in the distant past when we understood nothing of the interests, fear and pain of other sentient beings.”
PACMA also wants to end the “national disgrace”
PACMA urges the discharge of responsibilities after the three fatalities in 24 hours caused by the ‘bous al carrer’ celebrations in Pedreguer, Picassent and Meliana, all in the Valencia region. The animal party deplored in a statement that these three places saw three men violently killed in less than 24 hours while participating in local bullfighting festivities.
The group is demanding that the event organisers, as well as the respective city councils and the Generalitat, be held responsible for authorising the celebrations and “consciously endangering the lives of civilians and mistreating animals”.
“All these deaths can be avoided with a simple procedure – says chairman Javier Luna. Banning the use of animals at public festivals is not an option, but a necessity. Every municipality has the power to organise these festivals or not and decide whether animals participate in them. No one is forcing them to endanger people in this way.”
PACMA also points to the increased risk of the running of the bulls this year after being unable to run for two years due to the pandemic. It is now much busier and minors have even been seen this year at a number of festivities according to the animal party. “We want to know how many more people have to die or be injured before this national disgrace is ended.”
The group also wants the General Director of the Animal Rights Directorate, Sergio García Torres, to demand an immediate end to bullfighting in Spain. And to “disregard the interests of the livestock sector or the bullfighting lobby, the main promoters of bullfighting.”