An amateur bullfight in Peru has left at least ten people injured after amateur matadors, some of whom were drunk, attempted to prove their bravery by fighting the angry bull. The incident, which was captured on video and posted on YouTube, took place on Sunday in a village in the Ayacucho region of Hyamanga Province at the end of the annual Senor Espiritu Santo (Lord Holy Spirit) Festival.
The festival is believed to date back to the 17th century and has always incorporated bullfights along with other customary celebrations. Bullfights remain popular, though controversial, throughout Peru. They are generally held in a safely fenced off arena or proper stadium like the one pictured above. However, Sunday’s bullfight took place in a makeshift showground in the village, with only some spectators protected behind fencing.
While local would-be matadors, several of whom were clearly drunk, took turns to “fight” an increasingly angry bull, a ring assistant who was also drunk, let go of the safety rope tied around the neck of the bull. Havoc ensued as the snorting animal turned on the crowd. While many spectators fled, others continued to confront the angry bull, and at least ten people were gored, mauled or injured in some other way. One young man realized the danger just in time and leapt away from the bull onto a red car to escape being gored.
The video shows the man leaping to the car, as well as several other men falling to the ground after being attacked by the bull, with onlookers leaping forward to help drag them to safety. It also shows a woman pulling her inebriated husband out of the ring to stop him from trying to fight the bull, and several members of the angry crowd grabbing the irresponsible ring assistant and whipping him (according to the video commentary).
While bullfighting is banned in many countries, its popularity in Peru continues to grow, as it does in Spain where bullfighting has been practiced for centuries. Traditionally it is a fight to the death of either the bull or the matador, and crowds flock to see blood and gore from man or beast – though the fight is often stopped when matadors are injured.
On the other hand, anti-animal cruelty activists have been trying for decades to stop what they say is “a cruel and barbaric spectacle,” rather than an art or sport as professional matadors maintain. Peru Antitaurino, an alliance of at least 20 animal rights groups calls it “an extreme form of cruelty” that must be banned.
It is common to find anti-bullfight activists at mainstream events, with protestors frequently confronting police. For example late last year two policemen and a protestor were injured at a bullfight in Lima after a group of activists attacked the officers with stones and sticks. Police responded with tear gas and water sprayed from fire hoses. Media reports stated that protestors used red lipstick to write “murderers” on the windows of cars parked at the event, and also slashed tires.
When the Lord of Miracles Festival was staged in Lima at the weekend, there was an anti-bullfighting rally, but nobody was injured. Protestors wore black and shouted words like “torture” and “barbarism.” Police kept them away from fans watching the bullfight.
Sober spectators at the Peru Ayacucho event said it was lucky that only ten people were injured. Some were scathing in their comments about the drunk amateur matadors. Others said they would be back next year to watch amateurs fight another angry bull.
By Penny Swift