Bullfighting comeback in Albox divides opinions

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DIVIDED: Barbaric and cruel, protestors argued (inset 1), a popular deep-rooted tradition, according to enthusiasts packing the bullring (inset 2). CREDIT: Sol Times

EXPATRIATES were among protestors voicing opposition to bullfighting’s reappearance in Albox for the first time in 15 years, under the slogan ‘This is torture! Not art or culture’.

Demonstrators blew whistles, waved placards, and shouted out messages like “this is a national disgrace” and “this is not for children” at the peaceful, but noisy protest organized by the Antitaurinos Almeria anti-bullfighting association last Saturday afternoon in front of the temporary bullring in La Molata.

Antitaurinos Almeria President Luis Cantisani told the Sol Times the association had been prompted to organize a protest in Albox for the first time because of the significant number of people, many of them British, who had expressed strong opposition to the spectacle making a comeback there.

Albox Mayor Francisco Torrecillas stood by the council’s decision to include bullfighting on the All Saints Day fiesta programme. Openly admitting to the Sol Times he is himself a fan of bullfighting, he made it clear it however it had not been a personal decision to bring it back to Albox, but a response to requests his administration had received from numerous local bullfighting enthusiasts. He stressed the council puts on different kinds of events to appeal to different people, pointing out bullfighting has ‘national fiesta’ status, and commenting, “while the Junta de Andalucia and the Spanish Government don’t prohibit it, well then bullfighting’s legal and it can be organized in municipalities.”

But he added, “I profoundly respect people who are against bullfighting, including all the foreigners who live here with us. It’s their right to express their opinions.”

There were certainly plenty of people filling the bullring on the day. Among those happy to see bullfighting back in Albox was Bernadino, who was there with his wife and young children, commenting, “We’re country people and we like it. It’s a tradition here.”

“They don’t understand the fiesta”, said local Manuel Gutierrez of the protestors. “They don’t know about the money it generates.”

Working in the ticket office and doing a brisk trade was Joaquin Horta from Granada. Revealing he is also a mozo de espadas (sword page), he said he reckons people who oppose bullfighting don’t take into consideration the privileged life of the bulls before they appear in the ring or the “sacrifices” of the bullfighters.

On the other side of the argument was Audrey Bullen, describing it as “unspeakable” and “barbaric” that anyone “enjoys the deliberate torture and suffering of an animal to its inevitable death.”

Audrey said she could not understand how in the same country where there are campaigns to improve animal and pet welfare “they can rejoice in killing an animal for money.”

“This should be stopped”, said Albox-based animal charity APSA volunteer Vicky Evans, who feels so strongly about bullfighting it had motivated her to take part in this, her first ever protest action.

Sandra Smith, was surprised by how many people had brought children along, hoping the protest would help change minds.

“There is no tradition, culture or art in something which is the suffering of a living creature”, insisted Amparo Rodriguez, describing it as “perverse” to “rear a living creature to cruelly torture it in the end.”

For Amparo the return of bullfighting to Albox ws “an enormous step backwards in a civilized society.”

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