Will Spain listen to those who took to the streets against bullfighting?
Last weekend there was a massive protest in Madrid against bullfighting, with thousands of people turning out to demand an end to the shameful practice.
By Alyx Elliot, UK Head of Programmes and Campaigns
The cruelty of bullfighting has always seemed completely brazen to me. It sanctions the bloody and painful torturing of animals in a ring, as if we're still living in Roman times. What does it achieve, other than to demonstrate violent human dominance over another species in a public setting? Many aficionados call it 'art'; but I see little art in an animal being chased, taunted, speared multiple times, and collapsing and drowning in its own blood.
So this protest is a big milestone for the anti-bullfighting movement in Spain. For years, campaigners who have spoken out against bullfighting have been a small but loud and determined voice from both within and outside of Spain. There have been accusations from bullfighting fans - aficionados - that those who want to end it either have an alterior motive (such as independence in Catalonia), or are foreign and have no business commenting.
This time however, Spaniards themselves have come out en masse to declare bullfighting un-Spanish - confirming a headlining poll that we did in January showing that only 19% of the Spanish population aged 16-65 support bullfighting. This dropped to just 7% amongst those aged 16-24 (Ipsos MORI, 2016). More and more communities in Spain are enforcing their own local bans and this year, the famous Toro de la Vega bull festival was finally outlawed.
Clearly, modern-day Spain is losing its patience with this outrageously cruel and archaic practice.
Unfortunately, bullfighting supporters will be panicking and pulling all the political strings they can to keep the government from considering a national ban. But events like this protest give me hope, as the Spanish people will soon run out of patience completely. And in the meantime, we just have to keep fighting for what's right.