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The grim reality of Pamplona’s annual horror show

As Pamplona surges through another week of mayhem, few will question the morality, wisdom or correctness of what they are doing. Perhaps they will, once they have stared open-mouthed as another noble creature collapses, its back reinvented as a pin-cushion.

CHRIS LEADBEATER: ‘The perceived romance and ritual of the Corrida – the costumes, the carnival atmosphere – is almost immediately replaced by the desperate reality. What seems – in those colourful images in establishments like Bar Gaucho – to be ballet; athletic combat between man and beast; a meeting of warriors – is more like a back-street brawl where a lone victim is severely out-numbered (seven to one), and softened up by henchmen (including picadores – men on horseback, armed with lances), before the gang-leader strides in to deliver thecoup de grace. It is an awful spectacle, the bull staggering around the ring, its life squirting from its wounds. I left at the end of the fourth fight (there are six in a session), unable to stomach any more, illusions shattered…

And there are plenty of voices which declare it to be a disgrace. The League Against Cruel Sports is unequivocal in its condemnation. Of the encierro, it states that “each morning, bulls are forced to run a kilometre down the streets of the town, chased by cheering participants and spectators. Once released, the bulls are frightened with gun shots, electrocuted with cattle prods and kicked and hit by jeering spectators, often down concrete or cobbled streets which they slip and slide on, suffering broken legs and other injuries in the process.” The protest group has long placed pressure on tour operators who offer packages to the festival, naming and “shaming” those who facilitate access…

But the problem for opponents of bloodsports is that, while there has been a growing rejection of bull-fighting in Spain (notably in Catalonia, which banned it in 2010; Barcelona’s enormous arena La Monumental is now largely disused), in corrida hotspots like Pamplona and Seville, it is still practically a religion, where mass is unlikely to be cancelled… But as Pamplona surges through another week of mayhem, few of those dashing down Calle de la Estafeta will question the morality, wisdom or correctness of what they are doing. Perhaps they will once they have stared open-mouthed as another noble creature collapses, its back reinvented as a pin-cushion. But until then, they will shout loudly and happily’. SOURCE…

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