by PAULO SILVESTRE
A bullfight to be held on Sunday in Monchique in aid of the Bombeiros is causing outrage among animal rights activists, who are calling for the traditional event to be cancelled.
The bullfight, the first in the town of Monchique, is included in the 13th Festival do Presunto (Ham Festival) programme, which starts tomorrow (Saturday) at Parque das Feiras.
A group, called Grupo de pessoas que não quer touradas em Monchique (group of people who do not want bullfights in Monchique), has been created on Facebook to engage support from citizens against the event and thus attempt to stop it from taking place.
The founder of the group, Jeremy Walton, told the Algarve Resident: “Bullfights do not deserve the status of culture and our objective is to never allow this cruel and violent practice to happen.”
Members of the group had organised a manifesto for September 6 at 10am but, according to Jeremy Walton, “Monchique Mayor Rui André decided not to come to work on the day and few people, knowing this beforehand, showed up. The members of the group will now schedule another manifesto, possibly for the day of the event and we hope that lots of people come to protest against this bullfight.
“Regular updates regarding the manifesto will be available on the Facebook page of the group,” he added.
According to the organisers, this is a charitable event aimed at helping Monchique Bombeiros, who currently face serious financial difficulties.
José Furtado from Monchique Bombeiros told the Algarve Resident: “The festival programme includes a bullfight to support the Bombeiros as we are facing serious financial difficulties. “The authorities who should support us are not, so we decided to ask Monchique Câmara for help.”
He added: “I am a great defender of animals, however bullfights are legal in Portugal and this type of event won’t be the first or the last in the country.
“I hope that many people will attend this bullfight so the funds can help us to overcome our financial difficulties,” he added.
Monchique Mayor Rui André told the Algarve Resident on Wednesday: “There is no bullfighting tradition in Monchique and the event will be an isolated case. The bullfight is exclusively to support Monchique firefighters. It was them who requested this and we will support it.
“We are all aware of the financial difficulties the Bombeiros are facing and so we have decided to help.
He added: “Bullfighting has always divided society. There are those who love it and those who are totally against it. I respect both sides and am available to talk about this subject.”
Jeremy Walton said that there are many reasons why members of the group are against this bullfight.
“The most important are cruelty to animals, the violence and the non-compatibility of bullfighting with a humanitarian association such as the Bombeiros,” he stressed.
The association for protection of animal rights, Animal, has stated on its website: “The bullfighting industry is desperately trying to save its imminent downfall, bailing with all sorts of tricks. The attempt of this industry to take bullfights to places where they have never happened before is a scandal. Monchique is an Algarve municipality that has no bullfighting tradition.”
Animal posted on their blog an example of a letter that people could send to the Mayor as a form of protest against the bullfight, including email addresses to Monchique Câmara.
Portuguese citizen Paulo Matias spoke openly about this national tradition: “People should think more about the cruelty involved in bullfights and should oppose this bullfight in Monchique.
“This event has the pretext of being done to help the Fire Department of Monchique, but there are other ways to help instead of causing harm to animals.
“Instead of a bullfight why doesn’t Monchique Câmara organise a traditional fair selling regional produce?” he added.
Protesters are asking for those in support of banning the bullfight in Monchique to join the demonstration planned for Sunday (September 12). Jeremy Walton added: “I would like to call all people who are interested in making positive change here to join me in protest against this controversial bullfight.
“The protest will be registered with the police for our protection. I hope to see you all next Sunday.”
For more information, please visit Grupo de pessoas que não quer touradas em Monchique on Facebook website. Alternatively, visit http://gratomonchique.blogspot.com (available only in Portuguese) or Animal blog http://blogdaanimal.blogspot.com