Spain’s bull runs claim 10 lives this year

The China Post - - FEATURE - BY LAU­RENCE BOUTREUX

A man has died af­ter be­ing struck by a bull, po­lice said Sun­day, bring­ing to 10 the num­ber of peo­ple killed in bull runs in Spain this year, one of the dead­li­est ever for the sport.

The death comes as new left­ist may­ors who swept to power across the coun­try fol­low­ing May lo­cal elec­tions mull elim­i­nat­ing fund­ing for bull fes­ti­vals, which see crowds of peo­ple run ahead of herds of bulls, while other towns boost their se­cu­rity mea­sures.

The uniden­ti­fied man in his late 40s was struck by a bull sev­eral times dur­ing a run in the north­east­ern town of Bor­riol on Satur­day and died in hos­pi­tal, a lo­cal po­lice spokesman said.

Fes­tiv­i­ties were can­celled in the town of some 5,000 res­i­dents fol­low­ing the death.

This year’s toll matches the record of 10 deaths in bull runs set in 2009.

Last week­end alone four men died af­ter be­ing gored by half-tonne fight­ing bulls in four dif­fer­ent towns.

One of the vic­tims, a 55-year-old man, was caught on video be­ing re­peat­edly gored by a bull as he lay on the ground in front of pro­tec­tive bar­rier that sep­a­rate on­look­ers from bull run par­tic­i­pants.

“It is an in­evitabil­ity, an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of co­in­ci­dences, due mainly to the hordes of peo­ple who go see the bulls,” said Al­berto de Je­sus, di­rec­tor of bull­fight­ing mag­a­zine “Bous al Car­rer.”

Nearly 16,000 town fes­ti­vals will in­clude bull events this year, nearly 2,000 more than last year, ac­cord­ing to cul­ture min­istry fig­ures.

“Town halls al­ways have more bull runs the year of mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, the num­ber of fi­es­tas shoots up be­cause they are pop­u­lar,” said Vi­cente Ruiz, the editor of El Mundo news­pa­per and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to bull­fight­ing blog La Cuadrilla.

Most bull runs are held in Au­gust and Septem­ber when towns hold fes­ti­vals in hon­our of pa­tron saints.

Ten peo­ple were gored this year dur­ing Spain’s most fa­mous bull run­ning fes­ti­val, the week-long San Fer­min fi­esta in July.

Some towns have re­sponded by boost­ing safety mea­sures.

The town of Perales de Ta­juna, some 40 kilo­me­ters south­west of Madrid, plans to have five am­bu­lances on standby for its an­nual bull run on Aug. 30, in­stead of just two as re­quired by lo­cal reg­u­la­tions.

“First there are fire­works, then a pro­ces­sion in honor of the Vir­gin, fi­nally the bulls. The fi­esta is what gives the town its iden­tity,” the mayor of the town, Yolanda Cuenca Re­dondo, said.

Jorge Rosco, a 37-year-old gas dis­trib­u­tor who takes part in 25-30 bull runs across Spain each year, said the prob­lem is that bull runs had be­come too crowded with many reck­less par­tic­i­pants.

“It is not pos­si­ble to have more se­cu­rity mea­sures than there are now. But there are many more peo­ple, so many that some­times you can’t even climb the safety fence,” he said.

“Peo­ple don’t re­spect the bull, they take pic­tures, they pro­voke the bulls. It is not a game, they are an­i­mals that kill, you have to run with your head, con­scious of what you are do­ing.”

A 32-year-old Span­ish man was gored to death on Aug. 8 near the cen­tral city of Toledo af­ter be­ing gored in the neck while film­ing a bull run.

The pre­vi­ous month a French tourist was gored to death while try­ing to film a run near Ali­cante with his mo­bile phone.

The Span­ish town of Vil­lafranca de los Ca­balleros, some 120 kilo­me­ters south of Madrid, made head­lines last month when its newly elected so­cial­ist mayor de­cided to use its sub­sidy of 18,000 eu­ros (US$20,500) for an an­nual bull­fight to­wards books and school sup­plies.

Af­ter May’s lo­cal elec­tion saw left­ists take power in sev­eral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across Spain, the town is one of about a dozen that has be­gun ques­tion­ing whether public funds should be used for bull events.

Madrid’s new mayor, Manuela Car­mena, has vowed that “not one euro of public money” would go in fund­ing bull­fights while sev­eral towns are mulling ref­er­en­dums on the is­sue.

AFP

Spec­ta­tors jump be­hind a bar­rier to avoid a bull dur­ing a run­ning of the bulls through the streets, or “encierro,” as part of the “Boti­jeras” fes­tiv­i­ties in Due­nas, Pa­len­cia province, Spain, Sun­day, Aug. 23.

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