THE bous al carrer bull-running festivals in the Valencia region have claimed their eighth victim this year so far, after an 80-year-old man was gored by a young bull on Wednesday in the Canet d’en Berenguer municipality. He was taken to hospital to treat his injuries but doctors were unable to save him.
According to local press reports, the man had apparently accidentally entered an area used to release the bulls, thinking that there were no loose animals in there. But a young bull was present and ran toward him at speed, violently goring him.
The fiestas have not been cancelled on the basis they will finish tomorrow, Friday. But today a moment of silence was held in tribute to the man who lost his life.
The incident comes just weeks after politicians in the region called for a debate on whether the fiestas need to be reconsidered. This year is the worst on record for the bous al carrer, with a 73-year-old French woman and an 18-year-old man among the latest victims.
Aitana Mas, the deputy premier of the region, asked recently: “Is a fiesta where people die really a fiesta?” Premier Ximo Puig responded saying that a ban was not among the options being considered, but he did call for the regulations to be more strictly adhered to.
Valencia is home to more than half of the 16,000 taurine fiestas celebrated in Spain, according to official figures. As well as bull runs through city streets, they can also feature the toro embolado, when the animal’s horns are set on fire, or the bou a la mar, when people jump into the sea to get away from the bull.
Since 2014, 32 people have been killed in such events in the Valencia region, according to figures cited by El Diario, while 5,415 people were injured between 2014 and 2021. The high figures mean that insurance companies are unwilling to cover the events.
Bullfighting experts claimed earlier this month that the high casualty rate this year in Valencia is down to participants not being aware of how dangerous the animals are, as well as organisational issues. Participants have also been spotted with inappropriate footwear on the runs or even taking selfies with the bull in the background.
Meanwhile, on Monday a butcher was killed at the bullring in the city of Murcia as he was trying to finish off a bull. According to press reports, he approached the animal as it was laying on the ground, thinking that it was unable to move. But it sprang into the air and gored the man, disembowelling him in the process. He later died in hospital.