Spanish Town Abolishes Bullfights in Favor of Books

And the score is: Books 1, Bullfights 0.

In a refreshing change for a country that loves its bullfights, the Spanish town of Villafranca de los Caballeros, situated about 80 miles south of Madrid, has decided to cancel its annual bullfight and use the nearly $20,000 saved on books and school supplies for local children. 

A bullfight has been the central attraction of the small town’s fiesta for over a decade, but enough is enough.

“It’s a question of priorities,” said the town’s newly elected socialist mayor, Julián Bolaños. “There is a lot of unemployment in this town and many people simply don’t have money to buy school supplies for their children.” He estimated that the town, which has a population of 5,200, was spending as much as €18,000 a year to hold the annual event.

The Beginning Of The End Of Bullfighting In Spain?

The key here is that Bolaños is a socialist who was elected mayor of Villafranca de los Caballeros (the free town of gentlemen) in May’s local elections. He is not alone. Voters in Spain overwhelmingly backed new left-wing parties in these elections, and as a result the control of several important cities such as Madrid, Valencia and Alicante all changed hands. One of the effects of this switch has been the most serious challenge yet to the practice of bullfighting in Spain.

Just a few examples: Manuela Carmena, the new mayor of Madrid, a traditional bastion of the bullfight, has said publicly that “not one euro of public money” will go toward bullfighting; in the city of Valencia the mayor, Joan Ribó, has likewise stated that no government money will go to finance any event in which bulls are killed; in Alicante, the bull run which has traditionally been a part of the city’s August festival was replaced by a cycling race, and the new government has said it plans to ban municipal land from being used in bullfights by 2017.

It began with a ban on bullfighting in Catalonia in 2011, but now the push to abolish the so-called “sport” is gaining steam.

As The Independent notes:

“In the resort of Gandia, bullfighting has already been banned because, according to local officials, it amounts to animal abuse.

In nearby Dénia, the annual bous a la mar, in which the bull eventually ends up being pushed into the sea, faces a local referendum before it will be staged again.

Further north in Zaragoza, organisers of toros embolados, where firecrackers are attached to the bulls’ horns, have been told that they will no longer receive public money to put on their fiestas.”

Only Small Steps

Animal rights activists in Spain have welcomed their actions but point out that more needs to be done, with more than 16,000 fiestas involving bulls being planned this year in some 3,000 municipalities across the country. These are events which frequently result in animal deaths, and where in addition spectators and participants are often injured, or even killed. 

The best-known of these is Pamplona’s San Fermin festival, made famous in Ernest Hemingway’s “Death in the Afternoon.” During the event, crowds run through the town chased by bulls, invariably leading to several gorings before the bulls are slaughtered.

As Care2’s Abigail Geer explains here, bullfighting, the burning bull, the running of the bulls and other events are world-renowned and closely tied in with Spain’s cultural image, bringing in tourism and helping the economy to thrive. 

So, there are some huge obstacles to overcome, but change has started to happen.

Last week, in an historic move, the Spanish town of Trigueros del Valle voted unanimously to define dogs and cats as “non-human residents,” giving them rights similar to men and women in the area. 

Let’s hope that the move to modern day laws, which would outlaw bullfights and speak up for animal rights, will continue to grow, as Spain moves beyond its violent treatment of animals in the past.

376 comments

Clare O'Beara
Clare O4 months ago

yes to books

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O4 months ago

good move

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O4 months ago

th

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Toni W
Toni W4 months ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W4 months ago

FABULOUS decision - Spain is a great country but whilst they continue to hold barbaric events like Bullfighting I will not visit again!

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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mari s.
Mari S2 years ago

There's a lot to see and do in Spain -- Spain does not NEED these horrific spectacles involving abuse of animals -- as a matter of fact, many tourists prefer NOT to participate in any of these brutal events in any capacity -- I repeat, Spain has so much to offer -- Spain does NOT NEED these cruel and unconscionable animal events. Thank God people are finally realizing this!

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

Finally. An intelligent, fact based decision for the good of the animal and people.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey2 years ago

Hurrah !

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