8 Sep, 2022 @ 13:58
1 min read

Spain’s government takes action to stop controversial fiesta where bull is stabbed with spikes and hooks

Bullfight On The Saturday Of The San Fermin Festivities In Pamplona
Image Cordon Press

The Spanish government has called on the public prosecutor’s office to take action in a bid to stop the controversial Toro de la Vega bull run from going ahead on September 13 in the town of Tordesillas, in Castilla y León region. The Social Rights Ministry understands that the new regulations at the event could constitute an animal cruelty offense. 

The Toro de la Vega fiesta dates back to the Middle Ages and used to involve the hunting of a bull by participants armed with lances or clubs, some on horseback. In the mid-2010s, however, opposition to the event grew in Spain and animal-rights protesters became a regular feature in Tordesillas, often violently clashing with those in the hunt.

In 2016, the regional government banned the killing of bulls in such fiestas, although stopped short of any such prohibition on bullfights themselves. The last animal to die in the Toro de la Vega fiestas was called Rompesuelas. The animal took 20 minutes to expire, in full view of the public, after suffering injuries from clubs and spears. 

The Spanish government is claiming that the new regulations for the Toro de la Vega contravene the regional rules on events involving bulls. Although the animal will not die in public view at next week’s planned fiesta – the first to be held since the coronavirus pandemic hit – participants are allowed to stab him with lances tipped with spikes and hooks, something considered to be an animal cruelty offense.

The rules set out by the Tordesillas local council for the bull running state that the participants – now limited to 50 – must try to stab the animal with one of these hooks as many as seven times. If they fail to do so in the allotted time, the bull would be declared the winner of the event. 

Lilith Verstrynge is the Spanish government’s secretary of state for the 2030 Agenda, a United Nations plan of action for countries across the world with goals such as eliminating poverty. In comments to journalists reported by online daily El Confidencial, she said that the fiesta “should not be held in the 21st century.” She added that the Agenda 2030 itself states that “steps must be taken toward harmony with the animal world”. 

Spanish animal rights party Pacma filed a petition on Wednesday to the regional government with 74,000 signatures against the Toro de la Vega fiesta.


Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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