Guapetón (Hottie) was the name of one of the bulls that during Saint John’s festivities were tortured and killed in Coria, Cáceres province, Spain, the 24th of June 2015. A cartoon figures name, ludicrous and insulting to whom would be the victim of incredible cruelty.
It was 20:00 o’clock when Guapeton was placed on the square of Coria to be “bait” for a grotesque crowd thirsty for fun. Fun which includes his murder. After being held for several hours in a small box, under the hot summer sun, his bully left him out of captivity to a false freedom. He was spurred by the pain from the wounds inflicted on his back and the blood that flowed abundantly. His anxiety and fear drove him to search desperately for a way out, to find a quiet place to shelter from all the commotion, from all these people who inexplicably provoked him, chased him, and harassed him. But he could not find peace or get compassion during the last two hours of his life.
There he was, in the middle of an improvised arena, surrounded by 3 or 4,000 people looking at him with indifference. Why should they care? Bulls are born to it, to suffer, to stuck with flags, to be pierced by the spears, to be set on fire, to be hunted to exhaustion, to be thrown into the sea, or killed by a gunshot as they do here, in Coria. All for the people joy, for the fiesta, for the fun defined on Spain’s Spanish.
For 20 minutes he is challenged relentlessly, they run towards him, he is hounded with capes, violently pushed and humiliated. His instincts tell him that they want to harm him and that he should defend himself in the only way he could, with his courage. Suddenly he threw himself against the iron bars, behind which several people were protected, and his horns pierced the stomach of one of them and the chest of another. Both of these men who, only a few minutes had harassed him in the square were now lying on the ground, one of them dead. Even before the 43 years old man had reached the floor, all who were there knew that the horn had been fatal. But it did not matter, the fiesta has to continue , politicians and rulers of Coria decided, and it did. A life is very little worth, at most a minute of silence the next day.
After half an hour of torture, the doors opened and they let him run freely through the streets of the old part of Coria. The funny thing now was to persecute and incite him. But Guapetón had no more strength left, he was exhausted. Despite that, the following 30 minutes the masses kept annoying and harassing him.
It was then I heard behind me: “Kill him, kill him!”. I turned and saw a man with a shotgun surrounded by law enforcement police go against Guapetón. The authority must ensure that the law is followed. The law that protects the torture and murder. A law that embarrass a country.
In my way out of the Cathedral Square, I looked back on the bull and his eyes moved me. Until then, I had tried not to think, not to feel. I wanted to be a witness and had to control my own emotions to be able at all to be there. But I couldn’t do it anymore. And I looked at him with a mixture of respect, admiration and empathy. And it was then I realized it: surrounded by dozens of cowards who fled at the first attempt of attack he did with the little strength he still had, he was scared but proud, exhausted but unbowed. A brave and 10.000 cowards.
For the first time in it’s history Algemesí’s becerradas have been in the front page in all national media. This year the confrontations between activists and people in favour of the becerradas, have surprised because of their intensity. Demonstrations have last for 3 days and have ended up with several wounded people and three detentions. This last accused of public disorder, resistance and serious disobedience. As it usually happens, all the people under arrest were activists despite the fact that they were the attacked. Even for several minutes tragedy could be sensed when some residents of Algemesí tried to push an activists who had unfolded a placard from a considerable height and who held on to a wood column while he was punched numerous times. In the meantime no one did absolutely anything to avoid it.
This strong protests and the media coverage put on the table a celebration that was unknown until then for a huge majority of Spaniards and from then on has become one of the bloodiest festivities, together with Toro Jubilo in Medinaceli (Soria) or the Torneo del Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas (Valladolid). In fact, some representatives of the Verdes Esquerra Ecologista (an ecologist, left-winged political party), party integrated in Compromís (an ecologist, left-winged political party), didn’t hesitate to declare in a statement that the “brutality” in the Toro de la Vega “was small” in comparison, because in this Valencian celebration “there’s not even an ox, who’s tortured and killed are baby cows who go out to the ring to play and end up stabbed dead”. However there’s a very important difference between Tordesillas and Algemesí, while the first town is in its majority in favour of the Torneo del Toro de la Vega and silence those who aren’t, who are afraid of saying their opinion, in Algemesí most of the population is against this brutality that keeps happening only because the interests of a reduced group of people in favour of bullfighting and the intention of the Town hall in keeping celebrating it.
September 22th, during the nighttime becerradas, some incognito images were recorded because of the impossibility of letting the tv-cameras in due to a town halls’ prohibition. This images were broadcasted by Antena 3 and LaSexta, what made the town hall’s government team angry, which decided to take legal action against AtresMedia Group (which includes LaSexta and Antena 3) for showing images that, according to them, don’t correspond to the taurine celebration in Algemesí… All in all.
On September 29 of the year 1559, King Felipe II was a direct witness of “the Bull of Joy” (Toro Jubilo), and it remained stated in the Files of the Dukes of Medinaceli. This was the first time it was written on paper to show evidence of it, although some people think these rites come from the Celtiberian epoch. Apparently it was related to purification rites, initiations and magic. Nowadays the young boys neither mix themselves with the bulls blood to purify their bodies, nor they use magic rites to summon benevolent spirits or provoke weather changes. Well, there is no magic involved, nor purifications, but the same torture and suffering from those days is caused to the animal nowadays.
This is, obviously, incompatible with any country that had gained any cultural and ethical evolution, even so, this hasn’t happened in our own country, where the animal torture has been institutionalized and has been legislated in a way that these tortures and sufferings keep being inflicted with entire impunity.
This year, the night from the 15th to the 16th November of 2014, it was time for “Islero”. It suffered and died like all those that preceded it. The damage from the burns that where inflicted by the fires on its body and eyes, are usually irreversible, and be assured that no one was going to call a veterinarian to treat those wounds and burns. “Islero”, after attempting to flee from the pain and the panic of the fire, ends being executed away from the eyes of the public. Although the town hall and the people responsible are aware of the strong opposition and rejection that this so called “tradition” generates, won’t recognize it.
In fact, the organization Actyma, has interposed a denunciation for a supposed infraction, because the bull had been submitted to the amputation of the vocal cords before the celebration, “since no one never heard any kind of roar coming from it, not even through the whole hour that the “show” lasted, nor even under the noises of the fireworks, being impossible for its nature, according to expert ethologists”.
Nevertheless this time, there was something different from the events in the previous years, for the first time, several dozens of activists gathered and jumped to the enclosure shortly before the bull was supposed to come out at 23:30, they stuck together and handcuffed themselves to the post that had to serve for the immobilization of “Islero”, while they were putting the mechanism that had to hold the torches of the bull. While this was happening, some people quickly jumped over to the enclosure to inflict several insults, blows and even bites in an attempt to move or make the activists go away, the civil guard devoted itself to arrest 51 activists that where denounced of disobedience and took arrested 4 accused of a crime of public disorder and another one of injuries to the agents of the authority. One of the members of our Association was arrested while he was taking images of the situation.
At the time of 00:15 the celebration was taking its course again, and for a whole hour, “Islero” suffered the pain and fear from the fire while it was also enduring the humiliations caused by the people from the town called Medinaceli.
On 15th September about 200 people demonstrated in Tordesillas in order to impede the Torneo del Toro de la Vega in 2014. The protests resulted in numerous aggressions caused by the residents of the town and supporter of the Torneo, causing several wounded. The writer and journalist Ruth Toledano was one of them.
The disproportionate aggressiveness and hostility shown this year against the activists and journalists has been product probably of two reasons. First, the stand taken by a great number of media and cultural celebrities against this bloody celebration and second, the announcement by André Viard, substituting Leo Harlem (who refused to participate while saying that he was “completely against animal cruelty”) that stirred the mood of the population of Tordesillas with references to combats occurred in Ancient Persia, Egypt or Mesopotamia and thus claiming that this Torneo was included as World Heritage, where “the bull is killed, yes, but in an ethical and manly way”.
Short before 11 a.m., when the Torneo should have started with the release of the 596-kilograms bull “Elegido”, almost 100 activists invaded the itinerary screaming “We’ve come to impede a murder” and “Elegido is not alone”, creating a human chain in order to avoid the release of the bull and that in the end could just delay it a bit more than 30 minutes, exactly the time that the police needed to evict in the middle of insults and attempts of aggression.
Already in the middle of the Torneo numerous confrontations took place which resulted in several wounded.
121 Civil Guards, 30.000 spectators and about 200 activists.
Despite these numbers all wounded hit by a stone, kicked or punched were activists, just as all the arrested.
In an article of Natalia Junquera published in El País, Gerardo Abril, 58, president of the celebration, tried to explain with education his reasons. “I’m a great-grandson, grandson, son and father of a lancer. This is a feeling and feelings are as hard to explain as to understand”. His town, he says, is the “victim of a lynching by fundamentalists”.
– And what about the bull? Isn’t that lynching?
– No. That is a ritual of people who loves nature. We would like [the death] to be at the first [spear], but [bulls] have a tough skin.”
At 12:30 “Elegido” dropped dead speared through by spears with a 40-centimeters blade and 2-meters handle.
Deputy for PP, Arenales Serrano, has stated (18th August, 2014) that being her a person not very fond of bull fighting she is neither in favour or opposed to the celebration of Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas, to thereafter give a series of “reasons” to justify its continuation:
- That the neighbours of Tordesillas want it since is a tradition,
- That the act is “extremely” regulated and
- It has evolved that much that the bull’s testicules are now not cut.
Finally, the deputy used a curious argument for defending this celebration stating: “If we turn so exquisite and purist, would you eat a chicken? , because it has also being killed”, she expressed.
To this it can be replied that
- Not all of what neighbours of a town want should be allowed by the authority, not only because of legal reasons but only ethical. The lynching, for example.
- That autos da Fe, where the accused ended up in the burned in the bonfire were also extremely regulated. Y
- That once the bull is dead, I suppose that it would be the same to be butchered on one side or the other (even though here it would be possible to say that only God knows if the bull was still alive when his testicules were cut).
And about the comparison of eating a chicken… Well, this happens when trying to justify an act that is totally unjustifiable. It is normal that in the end delirious arguments are used. Because this is neither art nor culture. It is only a social psychopathy consented by a government with no Principles that legislate for injustice to be legal.