“Torture — not art or culture!” That was the chant of protesters who turned out to the streets of Madrid to protest the brutal “sport” of bullfighting.
The centuries-old tradition is starting to get some pushback from a growing populace who thinks the practice is cruel and outdated. According to the animal rights group Pacma, the protest is the “biggest one to date.”
“Our traditions are linked to our history — to the weather, to the culture, to the people” activist Jorge Rodriguez told NPR. “It’s a lot more than hurting animals for the sake of hurting animals. It’s rooted — and that’s why it’s so difficult to get rid of it.”
NPR’s Lauren Frayer reported that the movement was powered by a viral video that circulated in August.
“Last month, animal rights activists [from Pacma] went undercover to film a medieval festival south of Madrid, where a baby bull was stabbed and killed in the bull ring by amateurs,” Frayer said. “Video of the scene with children cheering went viral — with 20 million views in 24 hours. Many Spaniards were outraged that such torture is legal here.”
— Jesús Mérida (@Jeixon93) August 6, 2016
There have been signs of change recently. This week, “a popular festival that used to involve spearing bulls as they run through the streets will go on — but without the bulls being killed. That part has been banned,” Frayer reports.
According to the Associated Press, “at least 17 Spanish cities and towns have cut municipal funding for bullfights and bull runs, or passed legislation condemning or banning it since the new leftist party Podemos won its first seats in local and regional elections a year ago.” The Catalonia region banned bullfighting altogether in 2011, as NPR reported.
Considering that bullfighting still has strong supporters in Spain (Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rojoy loves it), a poll from January suggests that support is on the wane, with only 19 percent of adults supporting the pastime while 58 percent opposed it.
Featured image via Lauren Frayer (Twitter)