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Home / Our director Marius Kolff says goodbye

Our director Marius Kolff says goodbye

05-12-2022

At the end of November, Marius Kolff said goodbye as director of the CAS International to enjoy his well-deserved retirement. In this article, written on his behalf, he looks back on a period of almost 17 years as director, during which he has meant a lot to CAS and the International Network against Bullfighting.

© CAS International

Shortly before Christmas 2005, I (Marius) received a phone call from Dick de Vos, then chairman of CAS (Comité Anti Stierenvechten in Dutch). He informed me that I was hired as a director at CAS and that I could start on March 1, 2006. Those were some turbulent times, because CAS had been functioning without a director for over a year. Fortunately, I quickly won the confidence of the CAS employees and we were able to get started with new plans that I had.

At the time, CAS mainly wrote a lot about the seriousness and existence of bullfighting, something I didn’t want to emphasize only. After all, our donors had joined us for that reason and already knew this. In my opinion, we should take much more action in the field of lobbying and cooperation with international sister organizations.

International Network against Bullfighting

Fortunately, this expansion of CAS’s activities came quickly when we, together with other anti-bullfighting initiatives, started to establish the International Network against Bullfighting, of which CAS has been the coordinator since the beginning. A first meeting was planned in Lisbon in 2007 and 15 of the 22 invited organizations participated. Over the years, the network grew steadily. I am proud that the network now has more than 100 members from all countries where bullfights take place and quite a few countries beyond. Except during the corona years, the network met every year at a ‘Summit’.

The network brought us unprecedented possibilities. In all bullfighting countries, CAS was now able to lobby with the national, regional and municipal governments, almost always together with local organizations. We kept each other informed within the network ever since. We learned from each other. We shared information. Certain forms of abuse of women and children could be linked to bullfighting: politicians found this attractive and they took it up. It offered opportunities to ban bullfights, as recently in Mexico, also on a legal basis with safety and general quality of life in mind. And information is still exchanged daily within the network. This cooperation will of course continue after my departure.

Goodbye

My departure was officially marked on three occasions and I received many warm words from various people and organizations who were present. The first time in October when I attended my last meeting of the Dutch Animal Coalition (Dierencoalitie). It seemed as if that meeting was almost entirely devoted to my farewell. I received a wonderful speech from Dirk-Jan Verdonk (chairman of the Animal Coalition and director of World Animal Protection). In any case, CAS as an organization was central that day, because my successor Maite van Gerwen also gave a great presentation there about EU legislation and abuse of animals with cultural heritage as an excuse. Then in November in Mexico City, when we held our first ‘Summit’ (the annual meeting of the International Network against Bullfighting) since two silent corona years. As a secret agenda item, my farewell was inserted there and I was warmly and emotionally addressed by colleagues from nine other organizations. Until that moment I had no idea how great my impact had been for the various members of the network. Apparently very large. And thankfully very positive.

Finally, at the end of November I had a nice farewell reception with various relations of CAS and myself in the Netherlands. Representatives from embassies even came to this reception in The Hague! Colleagues also came from Spain and France. During this meeting I received several speeches. Firstly by chairman of the Supervisory Board of CAS, René Janssen (previously chairman of the board of CAS for many years), who offered me a sculpture ‘Happy Bull’ by artist Loek Bos on behalf of CAS. Then by my successor Maite van Gerwen, now director and chairman of CAS and Estefanía Pampín Zuidmeer (Publications/Projects Officer and Vice-President/Secretary of the Board), the colleague I worked the longest with during my working life. Finally, by the director of the Animal Coalition Sandra Beuving, she was unable to attend earlier in October. I also received a beautiful work of art in the form of a painting from the Animal Coalition. All in all a beautiful farewell!

I look back on a beautiful time at CAS and stay associated with CAS as an advisor.

Marius Kolff

November 30, 2022