Bullfighting festival starts amid protests
6 July 2004
PAMPLONA − A nine-day festival of bullfighting and parties started in Pamplona Tuesday amid protests by animal rights protestors and residents.
This year, some 1.5 million visitors are expected for the fiesta, which is likely to generate more than EUR 45 million (USD 55 million) in income for the Basque city.
Some 10,000 young men in white with red scarves cheered as the festival started at midday, heralding a week in which the bars never close.
The most famous feature of the festival is the daily running of the bulls through the narrow streets of the city to the bullfight ring, preceded by hundreds of daredevil tourists tempting fate.
A few people every year are trampled and gored and at least 14 deaths have been recorded since 1911.
The first run was scheduled for Wednesday morning.
This year, the tradition has been challenged by hundreds of animal rights activists, who ran through the streets Monday in their underwear after the municipality barred them from demonstrating naked.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said bull running is a cruel sport.
“Before being let loose in the streets of Pamplona the bulls are drugged and submitted to various acts of torture to frighten them,” Peta said in a statement.
The festival is no more cruel than dozens of other bullfight fiestas all over Spain, but it is certainly the best known, with visitors expected from scores of countries.
For serious bullfight fans, the festival includes “corridas” featuring some of the toughest fighting animals in the country from specialised ranches such as Torrestrella, Cabada Gago, Nunez del Cubillo, Dolores Aguirre, Miura, Jandilla and Marques de Domecq.
For many residents of San Fermin, a village near Pamplona, the running of the bulls has become more of a nightmare than a fiesta because of the heavy drinking and they flee to quieter spots.
The town hall has mobilised 1,500 people and is spending EUR 2.7 million to provide security and clean up the bottles and trash that pile up in the streets every day.
It has also run a series of advertisements warning novices that running with the bulls can be dangerous to life and limb.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news