The bullfighting campaign has grown considerably in recent years and continues to gather immense support internationally. We have collaborated with over 20 organisations worldwide, all with the aim of confining this archaic blood sport to the history books.
And we are certainly not alone, regular opinion polling consistently reveals that at least 89% of the British Public would never visit a bullfight and 67% of Spaniards are just not bothered anymore. Most major TV channels in Spain have stopped broadcasting bullfights due to dwindling ratings.
So, when it was brought to my attention that the Independent on Sunday allowed a feature article to be published promoting a Portuguese bullfight, I was stunned.
Last week’s piece, ‘In the bullrings of Portugal, the horse is the star of the show’, 16th Oct was very wide of the mark and showed a surprising lack of judgement.
All things considered you would expect this 'report' to describe an event that was far removed from the ‘traditional’ style of a bullfight. And in part you are encouraged when hearing that in this case the bull is not allowed to be killed, and the horses are hailed as heroes. But sadly, the display of torment and torture for public amusement still remains the same.
The Portuguese cavaleiro rides on horseback and plunges two or three steel-tipped bandarilhas into the bull’s hump, he then changes to a horse more suited to ‘close quarter work’ with shorter blades. Once the bull is sufficiently enraged and injured it is then removed, where it is killed away from the audience and sold for meat.
Adrian Mourby goes on to say :
“I expected to be shocked by seeing an animal wounded in this way, but the cavaleiro attacks so quickly that you never catch the impact and your attention is then taken up by the enraged pursuit of rider and horse around the ring by a 670kg bull.”
So does this make it acceptable? Mourby even interviewed the vet who agreed that he ‘did not like’ what happened to the bull, so what is his point here?
Disappointingly, his justification is exactly what we are trying to fight against – the fact that this is a ‘tradition’.
Most countries within the EU have animal welfare laws in place to protect against torture and suffering. But these laws are worthless because of exemptions that allow for activities that hold historic, cultural or traditional values, no matter how cruel they are. This is why bullfighting and cruel fiestas, which display horrific scenes of public torture can still carry on. .
There is much work that needs to be done with improving animal welfare law, and I am confident that we will see these exemptions removed in due course. But in the mean time short sighted articles such as these only serve more damage to the cause and mislead the public.
This piece was badly thought out and shows an incredible lack of responsibility, I only hope that most Independent readers will feel the same.