The valiant group of protestors that has doggedly convened in Albufeira for almost every bullfight in the town’s bullring since 2013 has set the record straight today as it prepares for this season’s last ‘showdown’ against increasingly angry opposition.
It is clear from the press statement put out by CAAT – Cidade Albufeira Anti Tourada that the group feels under attack – not only by the pro-bullfighting lobby, but by the authorities themselves.
Explains the release, around an hour into last week’s protest, GNR agents accompanied by “a member of the bullfighting organisation” approached the group, made up “mainly of women, children and a few elderly people” “with the purpose of identifying protestors under the false accusation that they were proceeding with an illegal demonstration.
“A number of protestors identified themselves and showed copies of emails sent by the council and the GNR, giving forewarning of the protest.
“During this process of identification, the member of the bullfighting organisation repeated several times that ‘this isn’t going to stay like this’.
“Around 7pm” (a little less than an hour later) “there was a tremendous bang, accompanied by smoke”.
“Some of the protestors realised that something had been shot from inside the bullring towards them. It was only by chance that at that precise moment a car drove past, coming between the protestors and the missile.
“The missile hit the car and in the middle of the confusion, smoke and panic, some of the demonstrators suffered superficial injuries.
“The only victim worst hurt was a child in the company of tourists” who had stopped to talk to placard wavers.
Says the release, the child was hurt as he “fell on top of broken glass caused by the explosion”.
But if this was not bad enough, worse was to follow.
“What most upset” explains the release, “was the fact that the GNR agents did not undertake any action to investigate the incident or assure public safety.
“They did not even deign to offer help or First Aid to the injured demonstrators”.
CAAT has since filed a complaint, alleging attempted murder. This may sound excessive, but the little group that has pushed itself through the last four years in the name of animals who cannot speak for themselves feels it is just another low-point in the “many incidents already suffered by animal protectors of Albufeira”.
“In the last few years, several women activists have been threatened, harassed and verbally insulted in their places of work, solely because of their support and efforts towards bringing an end to the bullfights in Albufeira”.
Some CAAT members have gone as far as accusing the council and the GNR of “aligning themselves” with bullfighting organisations and “purposely making it difficult to mount public protests while leaving demonstrators unprotected” so that they are left to face “insults, physical aggression and the throwing of objects”.
It is perhaps the group’s most powerful statement in the fight this far – but whether it changes the climate of fear and tension now hanging over this evening’s ‘final’ protest before bullfights resume next season remains to be seen.
In signing off, little group lodged something of a challenge. Its release says that it “suspects” the Albufeira bullring “does not conform” with bullfighting regulations as per Decreto-Lei nº 89/ 2014.
“In 2016 there was a leak from within the council that raised suspicion over the legality of the building where the bullfights take place.
“As this is a place frequented by adults and children” the group is asking local press to check out its suspicions, particularly with regard to health and safety.
Meantime, this evening’s protest is scheduled to begin outside the municipal bullring at 6pm. CAAT extends an open invitation to all like-minded animal lovers, as well as local press.