Debate sparked in Spain over bull running events as summer death toll reaches 10

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  16th September 2022

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Politicians who oppose bull running on safety and animal cruelty grounds are facing tough opposition from the industry, which insists the events are culturally important


Debate is raging in Spain over controversial bull running events, after at least 10 people were killed attending them over the summer.

The practise, which sees bulls who are destined to die in the bullring released into the streets while people try to avoid them or hit them with sticks, is deeply divisive.

Many oppose these types of events on animal cruelty grounds, with others citing human safety issues.

Seven people died in bull running spectacles in the eastern Valencia region this year, while the others died in the Madrid, Castilla y Leon and Navarra regions.

The fatalities include a well-known recortador – men who dodge bulls in the bullring by doing somersaults and other acrobatic moves – called Daniel Gonzalez Arribas.

Video footage shows the 30-year-old failing to scale a fence in a bid to get away from the bull, who then fatally gores him. Reports describe Gonzalez Arribas’ actions as ‘taunting’.

Bull running traditions

The head of Valencia’s Federation of Bull-Fighting Clubs, German Zaragoza, says anyone trying to ban these events would face a tough battle, with his organisation promoting bull-related blood sports as Spain’s ‘most-traditional and authentic’ fiestas.

He said: “They will have to take on Valencia’s love for the ‘bous al carrer‘ [bull running].”

But Spanish political party PACMA (Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals) believes there are powerful reasons to prohibit it.

It said: “Any measure taken other than the prohibition of all bullfights will be useless; These events are based on extreme cruelty and violence, and as such are, in addition to authentic torture for animals, a great danger for all people. These are archaic traditions that foment violence and poison society.”

The statement continued: “This is the year with the most deaths from ‘bous al carrer‘ since 2015, the year in which seven people also died in this type of event.

“It is shameful that, despite the fact that year after year these events cause serious injuries, accidents and deaths, the administrations continue to allow their celebration and even promote and finance it in part with public money.”

While bull running events continue, some Spanish festivities involving the mistreatment of bulls have been banned. Our article about how Spain’s Supreme Court ended the brutal torture of bulls at ‘Toro de la Vega’ festival explains more.

Featured image: David Benito via Getty Images

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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