Twenty minutes was all it took for Rompesuelas, the bull at the center of this year’s controversial Toro de la Vega hunt in the town of Tordesillas, Valladolid province, to die.
“An outsider killed it. He was on foot,” said one man on horseback after the death of the animal, which took place amid a climate of high tension between participants and activists.
Much reviled by animal rights groups, the Toro de la Vega is held every September 15 and involves hunters on foot and horseback chasing a bull through a pine forest before spearing it to death.
One supporter of the event attacked a journalist with a walking stick before running off
However, the death of this year’s bull was declared void since those who speared it failed to comply with three event regulations: the animal was speared from behind, it was killed by more than one person – the rules say the person who spears the bull first must carry on until it is dead – and the death occurred in an unauthorized area. Organizers are now considering imposing administrative sanctions.
Minutes before Rompesuelas was released animal rights protestors blocked two parts of the course, but despite a radio warning from the Civil Guard, organizers decided to open the gates to begin the event anyway. The bull ended up passing barely a meter away from the demonstrators. “We were tied together,” said one of the protestors. “The Civil Guard should have cleared us but it didn’t.”
The exchange of insults between the two sides was constant. “Murderers,” shouted the animal rights activists. “Scum. Get out of here,” yelled the participants.
A number of blows and pushes were also exchanged: one supporter of the event attacked a journalist with a walking stick before running off.
The town of Tordesillas defends the “tradition” of this medieval event, while animal rights activists condemn the “barbarity,” “cruelty” and “abuse” the animal involved suffers.
This year’s event has been notable for the increase in social pressure on the Socialist Party, which holds the mayor’s office in the town, to ban the practice.
Last weekend, the Pacma animal rights party brought together several thousand people at a demonstration in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square calling for the authorities to ban the Toro de la Vega. Earlier in the month, the group showed up at Socialist headquarters in Madrid to deliver a petition with 120,000 signatures asking Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez to stop the event.
English version by Nick Funnell.