Over 1000 activists and enlightened citizens participated in what is being hailed as the biggest animal rights demonstration in Spain Monday, 9th October to protest the cruel tradition of bullfighting.
This year marks the sixth such demonstration in Zaragoza, capital of the autonomous region of Aragon. The demo is always scheduled to coincide with the Fiestas del Pilar, which are days of celebrations in honour of the patron saint of the region, Virgen del Pilar, and take place during the second week of October. Typically, the festivities include such entertainment as dancing, music, Spanish theatre, and, unfortunately, bullfights. Every year, however, “participation [in the demonstrations] grows and the people who join are more diverse,” stated Alberto Plaza, spokesperson for Amnistía Animal (Animal Amnesty).
Animal rights activists and concerned citizens gathered outside the plaza del Portillo, the town’s bullring, and shouted slogans such as, “If you want to see blood, slit your own veins!”, “Murderers!”, “Sadists!”, and “Islero lives on, Paquirri is dead!”. Islero was the name of the Miura bull that gored and killed the famous bullfighter Manolete. Paquirri was another famous bullfighter who was gored to death by a bull.
As the bullfight fans left the ring, tension between the two groups mounted, but no incidents of violence were reported, though witnesses state that some of the pro-bullfighters tried to taunt the anti-bullfight crowd by hurling small objects at them.
“It was very impressive,” stated one participant, adding, “The [anti-bullfight] people were very angry and conscious [of animal suffering].”
The activist also said, “Probably many of the demonstrators were meat eaters, this is a way of showing the ideas of our movement. At the end of the demo an activist read a statement talking about all ways of animal abuse and said that veganism was the answer to these ways of [animal] suffering. This shows that people in Spain are starting to wake up.”
According to Mr Plaza, the object of the annual demos is to “make pro-bullfighters see that they are wrong in their thinking and to demonstrate to Spanish society that there are alternatives to torturing an animal to death for the sake of tradition. Every year, they are older and fewer in numbers, while we grow.”
The common argument from bullfight fans that bullfights are an important part of Spanish culture “is flawed,” stated Mr Plaza. “Culture should be something that enriches humanity. It’s like saying war and famine are part of human culture because there have been people who have created works of art based on these themes.”
Many young Spaniards are now questioning the centuries old ‘tradition’ of bullfighting, which involves the torture and slow death of a perfectly healthy bull for the sake of art and culture. In August this year, several anti-bullfight demonstrations took place throughout various parts of Spain. Several cities have declared themselves anti-bullfighting, including the important city of Barcelona, and on 22nd June, the Spanish left-wing nationalist party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), succeeded in getting a motion that could effectively ban bullfighting in the northern region of Catalonia through the province’s regional parliament. Arkangel for Animal Liberation