Animal Rights Protesters Object to Use of Bullfights in Guanajuato Cultural Festival

Animal Rights activists protested the inclusion of bullfighting for the first time in 37 years in Guanajuato’s Festival Internacional Cervantino, Mexico's largest cultural event—and one of the largest in the Americas. Members of Anima Naturalis protested on the Plaza de la Paz, in the center of the city; one of the members even donned banderillas (the spikes with which the bull is stabbed to get a response) and covered himself in blood to simulate the condition of the bull during the often gory events.

Mexico director of Anima Naturalis, Leonora Esquivel, said that the organization is planning to send letters to the governor of Guanajuato and festival organizers to demand that they leave the bullfights out of the festivities next year.

“People in Guanajuato are ashamed that for the first time these shows are being included in a festival that was purely cultural,” Esquivel said, reports the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Animas Naturalis also offered a press statement saying that bullfighting is “common to societies that are ethically and morally backward” and a “sadistic” event. The bulls are not treated with even “the minimum moral consideration for living beings” and the bullrings are “centers of institutionalized torture.”

The festival, which this year runs from Oct. 14 to Nov. 1, is rooted in a performance tradition that goes back to 1954, when the University of Guanajuato first produced farcical works of Don Quixote writer Miguel de Cervantes. The event features 2,300 artists from 25 countries and attracts about 500,000 people.