CAS International and Piep! undercover in TordesillasWednesday, September 16th 2015
Karen Soeters, founder of PiepVandaag.nl, in Tordesillas © CAS International
Rompesuelas, the bull that was used this year during the event Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas, Spain, died a horrible death on 15 September. CAS International was in Tordesillas together with the Dutch online news platform PiepVandaag.nl, which focuses on news related to animal welfare. Together with its founder Karen Soeters, we made undercover footage, which will be the basis of a documentary about Toro de la Vega. We saw Rompesuelas, surrounded by a mass of screaming men, being driven towards his death. We noticed Rompesuelas insecurity as he failed to understand the events. It was a very frustrating experience for us to watch and being unable to interfere. We couldn't save Rompesuelas, but with his death, we will endeavor to stop this event.
During Toro de la Vega a bull is slaughtered by hundreds of men on horseback and on foot, which are stabbing the animal with lances until its death. This event was declared as the state's cultural heritage in 2011.
Rompesuelas runs to his fate © CAS International
Toro de la Vega 2015 annulled
We feel even more powerless because Rompesuelas actually won the tournament. He ran so fast that he exited the area where he was allowed to be stabbed, and ended up in an industrial area. According to the rules of the tournament Toro de la Vega Rompesuelas should have stayed alive and be given his freedom. Even so he was mercilessly slain by the lancers in the street. Right after his death Rompesuelas was covered by tarp and taken away to ensure bystanders were not able to film and photograph the dead animal. Tordesillas wants to keep it hidden from the rest of the world. Eventually, the tournament was annulled because the Lancers had not adhered to the rules.
PiepVandaag! and aggression against journalists
Together with Karen Soeters we attended the event. Because the Spanish press is attacked every year during this event, we decided not to enter the grounds as journalists, yet to behave ourselves as inconspicuous as possible. Nothing happened to us, but many journalists have been beaten this year. One journalist from the Spanish channel Antena 3, one of the most popular broadcasting stations in Spain, suffered a blow with a lance while he was interviewing. These images are shown throughout Spain. More journalists have indicated that they have been beaten, threatened and had their equipment damaged. The media channels have denounced the actions and state that they are unable to safely report the event. Ana Rosa, a famous presenter, noticed "This is not a party, this is war."
CAS protesting against Toro de la Vega in Madrid © CAS International
The lives of activists and journalists endangered
Spanish activists traveled to Tordesillas to peacefully stop the event Toro de la Vega. Some had chained themselves, others blocked the road the bull would be driven over. However, the chairman of the event Toro de la Vega decided to release the bull while the activists were still on its route. At that time, many journalists were also present to report on the protests. By releasing the bull while the area was not yet cleared the authorities placed the lives of the journalists and activists at risk. The activists will file a complaint against the authorities of Tordesillas since an unsafe situation was created.
More than 90,000 people protesting in Madrid
Member of European Parliament Anja Hazekamp breaks a lance in Madrid © CAS International
Last Saturday there was a massive protest in Madrid, during which more than 90,000 people marched through the streets. CAS International was also present. Members of the European Parliament Anja Hazekamp (The Netherlands) and Stefan Eck (Germany) held flaming speeches that moved the audience. They also broke lances in Madrid, symbolizing the spears by which the Toro de la Vega is slain. Afterwards Anja Hazekamp and Stefan Eck walked along with 90,000 Spaniards. The Puerta del Sol, the most famous square of Madrid, was packed with people! It was a very impressive protest, the number of participants being doubled compared to last year, when there were 45,000 people marching. Since 2007, CAS annually takes part in protests against Toro de la Vega, and until last year we supported the Campaign Rompe una lanza (break a lance) financially. Now PACMA (Spanish Animal Party) organizes the protest individually.
Rock in Vega
Furthermore, recently a new project in which CAS International participates was launched: Rock in Vega. With this music festival we want to offer an alternative to Toro de la Vega to the residents of Tordesillas. The idea is that many musicians perform in Tordesillas as long as the cruel Toro de la Vega is not held. Rock in Vega would, therefore, replace Toro de la Vega. As much as 200 Spanish artists have declared to support Rock in Vega and are willing to perform for free. They show their support in this video.
Unfortunately we could not do anything to save the life of Rompe-Suelas. But we will continue strongly, working to prevent a bull to die a horrible death in Tordesillas next year. We want to thank everyone who signed and helped us spread our petition against Toro de la Vega through social media. And of course we want to thank everyone who supports us financially. Through this support we were able to travel to Spain to participate in the protest and be present in Tordesillas itself. Check our website regularly for more news!
Back to News overview