BOGOTA – Some 180 half-naked people with banderillas attached to their backs put themselves “into the bull’s hide” in the northwestern city of Medellin by positioning themselves to form the word “stop” to demand an end to bullfighting in Colombia.
“‘Stop. That’s enough of bullfights, of mistreating animals’: That is our message for the world that looks down on us,” said Animanaturalis representative Edison Duque, the coordinator of the event in Medellin.
The activists carried out their production on Saturday in the Parque de los Deseos, a venue provided to them by the Medellin Public Companies Foundation, a few hours before the start of one of the bullfights held within the framework of the city’s bull festival.
For about two hours, the anti-bullfighting group withstood intense sunshine and imitated the postures of the bulls as they die in the ring, covered with paint to resemble dried blood and with three banderillas attached to their backs.
“We want to make clear that these are teaching, educational events and are never against anyone. What we want is for the torture of animals to end and not to have death made into a celebration,” Duque said.
Numerous curious onlookers came up to the demonstrators to observe their activities and exchanged comments with them about the practice of bullfighting in Colombia, one of the parts of the world where it is most enthusiastically followed.
The event was also designed to denounce the fact that bullfighting only remains legal in eight countries as a result of laws that have been passed in other areas, including the Autonomous Community of Catalonia in Spain, the cradle of bullfighting, Duque said.
Animanaturalis and other animal rights groups will continue organizing these type of events, Duque said.
“What needs to be thought about is continuing this kind of event along with the promotion of a popular consultation, so that we can all feel our position vis-a-vis what it means to have an animal tortured and murdered, because it feels,” Duque said.
The anti-bullfighting debate reemerged in Colombia in mid-January when the bullfighting season kicked off at one of its main venues, the Santamaria ring in Bogota, although newly-elected Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro decided that he would not occupy the presidential box offered to him there.
Also, in Medellin local authorities came out against the practice, falling in behind Antioquia Gov. Sergio Fajardo, who halted the financing of the bulls with public funds.
In February 2008, Medellin declared itself to be the first anti-bullfighting city in Colombia, when 14 of its 21 councilors signed an agreement rejecting public spectacles “where animals are mistreated.”