On 11 May the Feria de San Isidro (Fair of St. Isidore) begins in Madrid: 27 bullfights, 3 novilladas (featuring smaller bulls), and 4 festejos de rejones, or mounted bullfights, which will entail the torture and death of at least 204 animals. Over the course of 2016, some 20,000 bulls were killed in Spain, if we account for those that fought in its 1,736 bullring events and 16,383 popular festivities.
The Bullfighting Spectacle Regulation employs, up to six times, the word “castigo” (punishment), thereby suggesting that fighting bulls are guilty of some crime, and must receive the appropriate penalty.
When a spectator sits in the different sections of the stands, he waits for the animals to reveal their nature, their bravery, for which they were bred and selected. For this they are "interrogated" by the bullfighter and his subordinates, who inflict severe physical and psychological pain upon them by various means and instruments unfit to be equated with "culture". The punishment, their torture, is a means necessary to draw out this revelation.
The bull is brought into the arena, hungry and thirsty, from the solitude of a pen where he is isolated for several hours prior. The “divisa” is an adorned spike placed in its neck before it ever steps into the plaza, causing it intense pain and a wound up to 12 cm deep. The stabs of the picador, mounted on a horse, will open up wounds of up to 30 cm, tearing skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves, and producing massive haemorrhaging. The “banderillas”, meanwhile, are spears that exacerbate the sensation of pain in the previously injured areas and provoke blood loss. All this, in addition to the constant movements before him, and the strenuous exercise to which he is subjected, lead the animal to physical and mental exhaustion, distress and disorientation. It is at this point when a triple-edged steel sword is driven into the thoracic cavity, severing the bronchi and lungs, filling the rib cage with blood and leading to the animal's slow and agonising suffocation. If the creature is able to remain standing, it will have its spinal cord severed, leaving it quadriplegic, before being finished off with the “puntilla”, a 10-cm dagger that will cut its brain stem.
All this will be dressed up in lights, ephemeral art, ritual, creation and death, mythology, alleged love of the bull, tradition, and much more that those who devised this grotesque spectacle knew nothing about. They will invent anything and everything necessary to justify it, although it is difficult to top the outrageous "scientific" contention that "the bull does not suffer". They will tell you that the bull was made for this, that is has no other purpose; that the bull fights, that it is a "wild beast" concealing mysteries that man has not yet been able to decipher; that it offers up its death proud of its bravery, that it lives like no other and dies like no other – while the actual conditions at the bull ranches, what happens away from public view, are covered up. They will tell you that bullfighting is timeless, and lie to you as they present their perverse account of an animal carefully raised and selected for many years at the breeders' "laboratories" – where, in reality, they are tormented and mistreated, forced to defend themselves, overwhelmed by fear, and doomed to a cruel and lethal fate unbeknownst to them. Yet, they will argue that the bull is the result of the intentionally altered genetics of an herbivore, transforming it into something essentially different from what its nature dictated when it was alone and separated from its herd.
On May 13 in Madrid we must speak out, loudly, that we do not want bullfighting in a society that is firmly committed to moral progress, one that already recognises other animals as "living beings endowed with sentience." We do not want to continue tolerating and subsidising the torture of these animals through the cruel fights and grotesque popular festivities that take place throughout our country.We look forward to seeing you there. Bullfighting is Violence.
José Enrique Zaldívar Laguía. President of AVATMA (Association of Veterinarians for the Abolition of Bullfighting and Animal Abuse).