Every year, about 250,000 bulls are killed in bullfights -- stabbed multiple times with barbed lances and banderillas (spiked wooden sticks) before suffering slow, agonizing deaths in front of an audience, including children.
Now, even though bullfighting attendance is at an all-time low and bans have been enacted by several countries and cities, France and Spain are trying to protect this cruel bloodsport by getting it listed as a form of "cultural heritage".
Bullfights aren't "fair fights" between a bull and a matador. They're highly staged forms of animal cruelty, sanctioned and subsidized by governments. A UNESCO "cultural heritage" listing would give a veneer of respectability to the torture of animals for public entertainment and mean subsidies may be made available to financially safeguard the future of bullfighting.
I am concerned that several political bodies have begun the process to recognize bullfighting and bull fiestas as cultural heritage assets.
Whilst I applaud the important work that UNESCO undertakes to preserve many expressions of cultural heritage, I would never support a move to accept bullfighting, or any other act of animal cruelty, as a practice worthy of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Within the countries in which these acts of animal cruelty take place there are large caring communities that oppose such blatant acts against sentient animals. Recent opinion polls have shown that bullfighting is not supported by the majority of citizens.
I would like to join you in celebrating many expressions of cultural heritage, but I could never celebrate animal suffering. Bullfighting is not culture, it is cruelty.
I trust that UNESCO would never give a veneer of respectability to the torment and stabbing to death of animals -- animal cruelty can never be an acceptable form of cultural heritage.
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