Spanish town holds bull spearing festival
Townspeople in central Spain joined in a centuries-old festival Tuesday to spear a bull to the death, prompting an outcry from animal rights activists.
Carrying lances on horseback and on foot, hundreds of residents of Tordesillas commemorated the "Toro de la Vega" festival, held every second Tuesday of September since at least 1453.
The bull, named Platanito, charged through the streets of the fortified town, across a bridge over the River Duero and into a lightly forested plain (vega, in Spanish) where it was lanced to the death.
The spectacle lasted about half an hour.
"Spectacles like the Toro de Tordesillas should no longer exist. A country like Spain should not maintain such cruel traditions," said Nacho Paunero, president of the animal rights group El Refugio.
A survey conducted for the group found 76 percent of those polled agreed that such festivals should be banned, Paunero said in a statement.
Paunero said he had sent a request to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero demanding that a draft animal protection law forbid spectacles such as the Toro de La Vega.
The Socialist Party government had promised in its electoral program to draw up a draft animal protection law, and any such legislation would have to ban events such as the "Toro de La Vega," he said.
Each region of Spain has responsibility for its own animal protection laws, usually with exceptions for bullfighting. The festival in Tordesillas is allowed under the laws of the Castilla y Leon region.
Protests by anti-bullfighting groups have mounted in Spain since the northeastern regional parliament of Catalonia agreed in July to ban bullfighting from 2012.
Another anti-bullfighting and animal rights group, PACMA, had rallied hundreds of protesters on Sunday to decry the festival, which predates the introduction of the classic bullfight at the end of the 17th century.
While calling for the festival to be scrapped, PACMA also demanded that it no longer be promoted as an event of National Tourism Interest.
© 2010 AFP