Could attitudes be changing after seventh bull-related fatality in Valencia this summer?

A bull run in Peñiscola, Valencia (Photo by paco pac: https://www.pexels.com)

THE death on Thursday of a French woman in a bull run in the Alicante town of Berniarbeig brings the total number of fatalities from bull-related festivities in Valencia this summer to seven.

The 73-year-old woman, of French origin but resident in Denia, was reportedly killed after being gored just once in the chest, according to reports from news agency EFE.

During the summer months towns across Valencia and indeed many parts of Spain, include bull-related activities in their festivities. These include running with bulls (bous al carrer) literally ‘bulls in the street’, where participants try to taunt the creatures by touching them or pulling their tail. The bulls are often tied with ropes and in some cases, they are even tormented with fireworks being attached to their horns. In Denia, there is a special festival Bous a la mar where bulls are enticed into the water.

While Catalonia may have banned bullfighting, in other parts of Spain the issue is not so clear cut, and there are still many who defend bull-related activities, claiming they are part of the country’s heritage and pointing to how much revenue the events bring in.

The president of the Valencian bull-running federation, Federation de Bous al Carrer, Germán Zaragozá, insisted that the main reason for the high accident rate in this year’s bull-related activities is due to the overcrowding of fiestas, with 25 percent more people attending than in previous years.

In light of the high number of fatal accidents so far this summer, the highest since 2015, after a two-year break because of the pandemic, the subject of bulls has come to the forefront of debate, but one thing all political parties agree on is that there needs to be tighter security at events involving bulls. None, however, has gone as far as to call for an outright ban, although the left-wing Podemos party has called for less animal suffering. The far-right party, Vox, has staunchly defended the bous al carrer. Speaking on Cadena Ser radio, Vox’s José Luis Aguirre defended what he called a Spanish and Valencian tradition and insisted that the deaths were due to the fact that there was a greater desire to party.

Bold move to ban bulls in Tavernes

Bucking the trend, one Valencian town, Tavernes de la Valldigna, decided not to allow any bull-related activities in their fiestas this summer. stating that they were a “flagrant mistreatment of animals”. The left-wing coalition council, made up of Compromís (Valencian nationalist) – PSPV (Socialist) explained that the activities are “Incoherent” with the animal welfare policies which they have introduced.

Tavernes mayor, Sergi González, said: “This is something that is much talked about, but we have done what very few have dared to do”.

The bold stance taken by González and his fellow councillors appears to have gone down well with residents, and according to a tweet by local journalist Carlos Merenciano, a demonstration against the council’s decision only managed to attract around 50 people, while the town has a population of 17,162.

Animal rights party, PACMA, congratulated Tavernes council for their stance, and continue their campaign against public mistreatment of animals. They shared the video below on Twitter from the fiestas in Alfafar. WARNING: please do not watch the video if you are upset by animal cruelty.

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