Each year in Spain, more than 16,000 local and national fiestas take place which involve the torture, mutilation and murder of over 60,000 animals.
Despite annual protests, high profile animal rights campaigns and worldwide media attention, many of these cruel festivities are now receiving new legal protection and are more popular than ever before, which begs the question: When will it end?
Local Traditions Don’t Die Easy in Spain
One of the first things to understand about Spain is that many of its people are fiercely loyal to their local town or village. Having developed over many centuries, and often being closely tied into religious ceremonies, these local fiestas are a showcase of local identity, bringing the community together in celebration.
Many of the cruel and inhumane practices that have developed would never be tolerated outside of these events and are definitely in violation of the (albeit lax) animal rights laws in Spain. Yet, when it comes to fiesta time, almost anything goes, and the scenes which can be witnessed up and down the country defy belief.
Some of the horrors which take place at different fiestas include geese having their heads ripped off, pigs having their throats slit on the streets, bulls having their horns set alight with burning tar, goats being dropped out of bell towers, and rats being thrown around the town.
These sickening events are not just tolerated, they’re celebrated and enjoyed by all sections of society, including families who bring their young children to join in. This is not a shaming session of the Spanish people, but an observation on the power of tradition and culture in blinding us to the reality of what’s really happening.
If any of these events were to take place under different circumstances, in a different cultural setting, they would cause shock and outrage, and would certainly be stopped in an instant. But because these events have been happening for generations, it’s a different story.
Why Isn’t the Law Protecting the Animals?
Given the cultural background to these disturbing practices, you might think that progressive modern animal welfare laws would protect the animals from suffering this horrific abuse and torture for our yearly entertainment, but the opposite seems to be true in many cases.
While some activities, such as the Andalucian festival where a live turkey is thrown from a church tower, have been made illegal due to pressure from animal rights campaigners, this has not prevented the event from taking place. Locals in the village are so intent on hosting this barbaric fiesta, that they are willing to group together to pay the 2,000 Euro fine, with the local mayor Juan Balbin Garrido stating that “if they tried to stop the turkey throwing, people would riot.”
Many of the higher profile events, especially those involving bulls, have received new legal protection in recent years, in an attempt to protect Spain’s cultural heritage. Bullfighting, the burning bull, the running of the bulls and other events are world renowned and closely tied in with Spain’s cultural image, bringing in tourism and helping the economy to thrive. Any attempts to undermine this for animal rights reasons are now being overruled at the highest levels of government. When will the suffering end for these poor animals?
History Needs to Be Left in the Past
There’s no doubt that modern day laws, created without the backdrop of Spain’s violent and bloody cultural heritage, would save almost all of the 60,000 animals who are mercilessly abused, humiliated and murdered for our entertainment each year.
It’s time for civilized societies to judge our actions by a new moral compass and not be swayed by what has gone before.