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Supreme Court puts definitive end to torture of bull at Toro de la Vega

The ruling rejects an appeal filed by Tordesillas town hall, which argued that there was no reason to prohibit the killing of the animal at the festivities by a crowd armed with spears

The Toro de la Vega festival in 2017.
The Toro de la Vega festival in 2017.

A ruling by Spain’s Supreme Court has definitively brought an end to the traditional way of celebrating the Toro de la Vega, a medieval bull festival held in the town of Tordesillas in central Spain. No longer will the animal be lanced to death by a spear-wielding crowd after having been chased to the banks of the River Duero.

Tordesillas local council had argued that the legislation eliminated “the essence of the popular rite that gave rise to bullfighting”

In the latest chapter in a long-running legal battle by animal-rights groups to outlaw the tradition, the Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Tordesillas local council, which sought to amend a sentence that also outlawed the Toro de la Vega and was passed by the Castilla y León regional High Court. In April, the latter tribunal upheld a decree passed by the regional government that outlawed the death of the bull as part of the fiestas.This law is also applicable to similar practices should they be held in other towns in the region.

Since 2016, the Toro de la Vega has involved a normal bull-run through the town, during which the animal is not killed in public.

In its appeal, the Tordesillas local council had argued that the legislation eliminated “the essence of the popular rite that gave rise to bullfighting.” Another of the arguments stated that “40,000 fans” attended the event “compared to 100 animal activists.” The council also argued that the death of the animal did not detract from its dignity, but rather enhanced it. The appeal claimed that there was no real justification to do away with the death of the bull.

Tordesillas town council argued that the death of the animal did not detract from its dignity, but rather enhanced it

Silvia Barquero, president of Spain’s animal-rights party PACMA, has spent years fighting for the prohibition of the torture and death of the bull in the Toro de la Vega festival. She has welcomed the definitive abolition of a practice that her group believes “is not in accordance with the sensitivities of today’s society.” According to Barquero, the ruling is the first victory in the fight to end similar festivals related to bullfighting. Now, she explained, the “Toro de la Vega has become just another bull-run, one that we reject just like we do all the others.”

After receiving news of the ruling, the mayor of Tordesillas announced that the Town Hall had requested that its external legal services examine what “possibilities present themselves now.” This report will made available to the council that is formed after the upcoming municipal elections on May 26, says González Poncela, who will not be running again as mayor.

English version by Asia London Palomba.

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