by Mridula Tirumalasetti
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BOGOTA, Colombia–A bull brutally killed during a popular festival in a city in northern Colombia has re-sparked the debate over bullfighting, indignation, and traditions of animal cruelty in the South American country. The capital, Bogota has banned bullfighting, however the event is still popular in other cities around the country, such as in the town of Turbaco in the Bolivar province, where this particular incident took place.
Corralejas, or bullfighting events, allow the general public to fight the bull inside the ring. The Mayor of Turbaco, Myron Martinez, defended the corraleja, calling it a local tradition. He said, “In ‘corraleja’ festivals there are always injuries, there are always animals beaten and horses killed. These are the kinds of incidents that form part of the traditions and customs of such festivals.”
Many others have criticized the event. Animal rights activists and a few government officials have demanded that legal action be taken after a video was uploaded to the internet in which a bull was chased and harassed by at least 20 people during the corraleja. The bull was then killed with machetes, rocks, knives, and kicks. “I have to say it is totally barbaric, where people with sticks, stones, and knives, and with utter cruelty, kill the bull,” said Environment Minister Gabriel Vallejo. Spokesman Andrea Padilla of the NGO AnimaNaturalis International argued that the video should be seen all over the world to raise awareness of animal cruelty. Padilla said what happened in Turbaco “should be condemned by all Colombian and the international community, because this is horror and violence at its very worst, with the consent of local authorities.”
The Ministry of Culture also gave a statement that called for severe punishments for those who committed these “barbaric” acts. They have further demanded that there should be a public debate about whether such events should even be allowed to go on. Jorge Otarola, a public defender, called the images “Dante-esque, painful and inhumane.” He spoke to The Associated Press and said, “The state’s intervention is needed because, even though traditions should be respected, they must be updated to reduce the suffering of animals.”
The Colombian Attorney General’s Office issued a statement where they said an investigation will be opened that could result in criminal charges filed against Mayor Martinez and Julio Quintana, who was the organizer of the corraleja.
For more information, please see:
The Latin American Herald Tribune–Bull Beaten to Death by 20 Colombians Angers Colombians–5 January 2015
The Guardian–Horrific scenes as bull stabbed and beaten to death at Colombian festival— 5 January 2015
GlobalPost–Bull beaten to death by 20 people angers Colombians–5 January 2015
Fox News–Brutal killing of bull in popular festival sparks outrage in Colombia–5 January 2015