For at least the past 500 years the town of Tordesillas (Valladolid) has celebrated the “Toro de la Vega” tournament on the September 8th – the holy day of Our Lady of Guidance (el Día de la Virgen de la Guía).
The “Toro de la Vega” tournament is, according to the event’s council, “a competition and confrontation between man and bull, one armed with a spear, the other with its natural defenses.” This is aside from the fact that this same organization includes in its ordinances that “ both, the bull and the fighter, must be of equal natural condition.”
We question if the spear for the man forms part of his natural condition…or if whether a bull that is surrounded by dozens of people handling these weapons is participating in a fight on equal terms. Yet this is not what motivates us to speak out (although this is of great concern). The real issue is what actually happens in this battle - how a human actually can come out winning in this fight. And if you are unaware of how this is accomplished, we describe it briefly in the following text.
The bull, protagonist in the middle of this cruel commotion, is set loose in an area close to the town square (la Palaza Mayor) and is forced to run through part of the old town until it reaches an open field – the place there the “celebrations” begin.
|Source: El Mundo Valladolid.|
Throughout the bull’s route, it has to run among hundreds of people who are calling its attention, shouting at it, hitting it, and even throwing things at its body (Check out videos online of this event - but we warn you! It can be disturbing!)
In the open field the bull’s competitors are waiting for its arrival. Some are on foot, others on horseback, but all have the same objective: to win the battle - to kill the bull with the spears before it is able to voluntarily leave the marked-off battleground.
In this cruel manner year after year a bull dies in this village. While trying to escape it is assaulted by dozens of sharp spearheads until it receives the final sentencing blow of death. Can you even begin to imagine what horror this is for the animal?
Is it ethical to unload all of this aggression on a living being? What if the only reason is for the mere entertainment of a few human beings? Can tradition alone justify human actions? Does this event merit to be considered a valued legacy in the local cultural heritage, where there seems to be no room for reason, empathy, and compassion? We respond to all of these questions with an emphatic NO!
We also do not support the fact that children are exposed to these acts of violence and aggression, which may instigate similar actions (against humans or animals) out of imitation. If this is allowed to happen, we are choosing for them to lose their sensitivity to certain stimuli. This may result in violent reactions, generating physical or verbal aggression with others or causing them to be impassive to the suffering of others. The new generations have a right to be educated by models that encourage values such as solidarity, dialog, tolerance, respect for differences, resolving problems without violence, and respect for all living things.
But at Roots & Shoots we’re optimists and we believe that without a doubt there is hope! We predict that this event has a very short future.
For one thing, as the number of tourists that come to see this event increases, so does the number of people (and in much greater numbers) who express their absolute repulsion for the tournament. We are sure that the political parties of our country, elected officials who represent the entire population, are taking note of the sentiment of the majority of the country concerned about these “celebrations.”
Additionally, we trust that the current educational models that put a growing emphasis on values (such as solidarity, empathy, compassion, and respect) will stress the relationship human beings have with the planet and all other living beings. We hope that future generations from the town of Tordesillas will also form part of this change…
This past Sunday, September 9th, a group from Roots & Shoots made a respectful request to the people of Tordesillas for empathy with a message written on a banner. Unfortunately, as has been happening over the past years, the local authorities did not allow any gathering of protesters within the city.
But we will not give up! That same day members of the team and the R&S groups “El Cisne Negro” and “TarracosBull” attended a rally in the city of Valladolid asking the regional government of Castilla y León to make this cruel event illegal. There, joined by a number of other organizations (Partido Animalista Pacma, Humane Society International, CAS International, among others), we were able to spread our message.
TVE, the national television station, as well as other media outlets broadcasted the news.
We will be working constantly on spreading our message so that this atrocity has its days limited. One way or another, we will make a difference!