HOLLYWOOD star Joseph Fiennes and BBC presenter Chris Packham have weighed in to back a British-led campaign to stop a ‘barbaric’ bullfight this Sunday in Mallorca.
The Shakespeare in Love star, who has a home on the island, and the TV conservationist have signed the petition to cancel the controversial corrida, in Inca.
A host of other celebrities and influencers have also put their names to the 6,000-plus petition which aims to ban the ‘sport’ outright in the Balearics.
It includes Downton Abbey star Peter Egan, who signed it this week and tweeted it to his 130,000 social media followers. It has been reshared over 500 times.
“Hi everyone, please join me… and end bullfighting in Inca and Mallorca NOW – Sign the Petition!” he wrote.
Expat-run pressure group Mallorca Against Bullfighting (MAB) has now handed in the petition to Inca town hall and is planning a series of protests for the day.
“I call it Mallorca’s dark little secret,” MAB founder Natasha Retzmann, a Londoner, told the Olive Press.
“For an island that lives off of tourism, everyone tries their hardest to hide the fact that at least twice a year they hold cruel and barbaric events in which bulls are tortured and murdered.”
Retzmann, 46, delivered the petition by hand on August 31 although Inca mayor Virgilio Moreno refused to personally receive it.
“He ducks and dives on the issue, but I know he had already received the petition by email,” said Retzmann, who moved to the island 13 years ago and runs a cycling business.
While the town hall formally registered the petition and logged it into the system, she claims Moreno did not share it with any of his colleagues.
The petition claims that bulls are being ‘tortured’ before they enter the ring, in a number of different ways.
But the Londoner is keen to stress that she wants to work with the town hall and other bodies and institutions in power to curb the activity, and does not seek confrontation.
Protest groups thought they had been successful in 2017 when killing bulls was outlawed in Mallorca, although Spain’s constitutional court in Madrid overturned the ruling two years later.
It argued the sport was part of Spain’s ‘national heritage’.
“People thought it had stopped after 2017, even local mallorquinos, because the authorities are doing it so sneakily,” Retzmann said.
She explained that the poster for the most recent bullfight, on August 10 – at the peak of the tourist season – was an abstract, graffiti-esque work of obfuscation that seemed deliberately designed to mislead outsiders.
“They don’t want to upset the millions of tourists who come to the islands each year and don’t approve of bullfighting.”
The other key stronghold for bullfighting in Mallorca, after Palma, is Inca, where the organisers, Madrid-based Tauroemoción, had far fewer qualms about the sport.
Their poster proudly illustrated what it was for and the company defended the spectacle as part of Spanish cultural identity.
“We want to recover the splendour of bullfighting that has been traditional in Inca for years,” said director Alberto García.
Bullfighting in the Balearics also has a willing champion in Vox MP Jorge Campos, part of the new PP-Vox coalition that came to power in May.
During the first bullfight in Palma after it resumed in 2019, Campos ‘goaded’ protestors by walking past them wrapped in the Spanish flag.
He is also a proponent of children attending bullfights – where bulls are systematically stabbed to death – and has been pictured at events with his own children despite the fact that minors are banned from attending such events in the Balearics.
Protesters reported that at a bullfight held last year, Campos marched a group of ‘very young-looking people’ in red Vox t-shirts from the party office in Inca and into the bullring ‘right under our noses’.
“I made eye contact with one girl and she looked up at me and shouted hijo de puta!” Retzmann recalled.
And another boy launched a gob of phlegm at the protestors.
The protestors will be out in force for a peaceful demo outside the Plaza de Toros at 5pm on Sunday and everybody is welcome to join.
Inca town hall declined to comment when contacted by the Olive Press.
However, they explained that the bullfight was ‘nothing to do with the town hall’.
“It’s a private event organised by a private company and all their documentation is in order.
“The only function the town hall has is to ensure all safety issues meet regulations.”