Animal rights activists are pressuring the head of the Socialist Party (PSOE) to end the Toro de la Vega, a traditional festivity in which a bull is hunted and killed with spears in Tordesillas (Valladolid), a town currently under Socialist administration.
Representatives for the Animalist Party Against Mistreatment to Animals (Pacma), a political party founded in 2003, showed up at Socialist headquarters in Madrid on Tuesday with a message for party leader Pedro Sánchez.
Last year, protesters and supporters of the event hurled stones at one another in a widely publicized clash
After holding Spain’s main opposition group responsible for “perpetuating animal abuse” through events such as Toro de la Vega, Pacma leaders produced nearly 120,000 signatures calling on Sánchez to ban “one of the most cruel festivities” that takes place in Spain.
Toro de la Vega, which is held on September 15, involves chasing a bull through a pine forest on foot and horseback before spearing it to death.
“We ask Sánchez to develop the necessary internal measures within his organization to ensure the Socialist mayor does not authorize” Toro de la Vega, reads the petition. “The overwhelming majority of Spanish society has been calling for a ban for years, while the Socialist Party pretends not to hear.”
Silvia Barquero, president of Pacma – which has no political representation at any Spanish institution – met with the PSOE’s secretary for Social Movements, Iban García, and with Environment coordinator, Álvaro Abril, to discuss the future of the controversial fiesta.
The meeting took place with just one week to go before Tordesillas holds the event, which dates back to medieval times and has been designated a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest.
In September of last year, Sánchez expressed his opposition to this celebration in a live call to Sálvame, a popular television talk show. The Socialist leader also pledged to push forward legislation banning animal abuse.
The secretary general of the Socialists is on record as saying that “in the 21st century, [Toro de la Vega] should not be held.”
Meanwhile, Pacma has started an awareness campaign featuring several Spanish actors who express their opposition in front of the cameras.
“I am against Toro de la Vega because I find it aberrant that some people should have fun watching live beings suffer,” says Dani Rovira, the star of the box office success Ocho apellidos vascos (released in English as Spanish Affair).
“I find it a backward tradition that makes no sense these days,” adds actress Eva Isanta, known mostly for her television appearances. More celebrities have been joining the initiative, including pop duo Amaral and film director Santiago Segura.
This is not the first time that Toro de la Vega has triggered a response from animal rights activists. Last year, protesters and supporters of the event hurled stones at one another in a widely publicized clash in Tordesillas.
But this year, the fiesta comes amid growing concern over the safety of Spain’s numerous popular events involving bulls. Thirteen people died in July and August during local fiestas involving bull runs and amateur bull fights, making this the deadliest summer in the last 15 years.
And these local bull-centered festivities are on the rise: there were 2,000 more in 2014 than the previous year, reflecting a shift from official fights – which are in decline – to less costly forms of bull-fueled entertainment.
English version by Susana Urra.