Thousands in Madrid demand end to bullfighting in Spain

Protesters carry banners during an anti bullfighting demonstration march in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, May 13, 2017. Thousands marched though the center of the city to call for a ban of bullfighting. Banner on right reads 'Stop the torture'. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Thousands of animal rights activists protested Saturday in Madrid to demand an end to Spain's long tradition of bullfighting

MADRID — Thousands of animal rights activists protested Saturday in Madrid to demand an end to Spain's long tradition of bullfighting.

The march went through the Spanish capital's city center, with several groups united under one clear-cut message: "Bullfighting is violence and you can stop it."

Animal rights activists say the gory fights are among the planet's most blatant forms of animal cruelty, with bulls lanced and finally stabbed through the heart. Matadors are praised for killing with a single stab, though some don't succeed in finishing off the animal with repeated thrusts.

The march, scheduled during the famed San Isidro weeklong fair featuring numerous bullfights in Madrid's famous Las Ventas bullring, is part of a growing divide between those who see bullfighting as a blatant form of animal cruelty and others who defend it as part of Spain's traditional culture.

Protesters also demanded a change in legislation under which animal cruelty would be subject to Spain's criminal code.

Spokeswoman Laura Gonzalo called for an immediate halt to all bullfights.

"It's time for all of society to unite and say 'enough,'" she said, while questioning the motive behind recent governmental tax cuts to bullfighting events.

Spain's deep tradition of bullfights was named part of the country's cultural heritage in a law passed in 2013.

Madrid's leftist Mayor Manuela Carmena hasn't banned bullfighting events, but she has eliminated annual subsidies for their promotion.

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