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ANIMAL RIGHTS

Online pressure forces travel agency to cancel bullfight holiday package

Former Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre says those against bullfighting are “anti-Spanish”

Matador Antonio Ferrera in Madrid's Las Ventas bullring in 2013. Ampliar foto
Matador Antonio Ferrera in Madrid's Las Ventas bullring in 2013.

A travel agency has pulled a holiday package deal that included tickets to see bullfights held as part of Madrid's San Isidro festivities following pressure from online social networks.

The success of the campaign launched by animal rights group Asociación Animalista Libera on the website Change.org forced Nautalia Viajes to withdraw its special offer for the May celebrations in honor of the capital’s patron saint.

“We are aware of the controversy surrounding bullfighting, and that is why we apologize to people who felt offended by the sale of this package,” said Nautalia, a unit of the Pullmantur group, in a press release. “We do want to make it clear that at no time did Nautalia Viajes defend, nor does it currently defend, animal abuse.”

Nearly 10,000 people signed the petition to revoke an offer that “encourages business in exchange for the torture of animals.”

The holiday package included the hotel stay and tickets to Las Ventas starting at €58.

“Spain is no longer about sun, paella and bulls”

“Spain is no longer about sun, paella and bulls,” said Rubén Pérez, spokesman for the animal rights group that started the online petition on April 7. “Nautalia is encouraging the most unfortunate of clichés about what the various territories of Spain have to offer tourists. While a majority of citizens oppose bullfights, the travel agency is promoting tourism based on blood and stereotypes,” reads the petition on Change.org.

“This victory proves that citizen action can fight against big companies with many more resources, and change things,” concludes Pérez.

This is not the first time that a travel company has pulled a bullfight-related product. In March 2013, Lets Bonus announced it would recall all such packages following a similar petition by the same group.

But former Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre, now president of the Madrid branch of the Popular Party, on Sunday attacked the critics, claiming that bullfighting haters were essentially “anti-Spanish.”

“They are the worst, because they oppose bullfighting just because they know very well that bulls symbolize the essence of our Spanishness better than anything else,” she said in a veiled reference to Catalonia, where bullfighting was banned in 2010. “In their yearning to do away with Spain, they seek to undermine the prestige of bullfighting, and if they can, to prohibit it by decree.”