Animal rights groups denounce use of dwarfs in bullfighting show

A dwarf fighting a bull

A dwarf in a bullfight show in Tereul. Credit: AnimaNaturalis

TWO animal rights charities have denounced the use of dwarfs in a comic bullfight production in Teruel, Aragon.

AnimaNaturalis and CAS International witnessed what they stated was “a new proof of abuse and ridicule in Teruel. Not only is it morally unacceptable, but it contradicts the general law on the rights of persons with disabilities and their social inclusion.”

The show was entitled “Popeye Bullfighter and the Little Sailor Dwarfs” (Popeye torero y los enanitos marineros).

AnimaNaturalis and CAS International denounced the production containing people with achondroplasia (dwarfism), and stated it was “another proof of the lack of respect of the bullfighting sector towards animals and certain groups”.

Since May 8 2023, they contend that the disability law now includes an additional provision underlining that shows or recreational activities in which people with disabilities or this circumstance are used “to provoke mockery, derision, or derision of the public in a manner contrary to the respect due to human dignity” are prohibited.

AnimaNaturalis has filed a complaint against the Teruel council, Aragon provincial council and the organisers of the show. They also consider that the provisions of the law are being violated and that the organisers could be facing a crime of provocation

AnimaNaturalis highlighted their outrage as they shared a YouTube video of the show.

“These kind of shows generate laughter and mockery towards people with dwarfism, and in this way children are taught to laugh at us”, said Marta Castillo, president of the Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disabilities (CERMI).

“The participation of people with dwarfism in these shows, especially those that take place in bullrings and make family audiences laugh, violate the United Nations international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, to which Spain is a signatory, and extend the humorous characteristics to the whole group, regardless of the personality and training of each person. We are not clowns. The clown takes off and puts on his or her costume, but we are in our bodies 24 hours a day”, Castillo added.

Fortunately, these spectacles have decreased over the years. In 2019, before the pandemic, there were 349 bullfights compared to 11 comic bullfights, and in 2021 there were only five comic shows, according to the statistics on bullfighting affairs of the Ministry of Culture. The Madrid bullring of Las Ventas cancelled a similar event in September 2022 after selling only 37 tickets. The poster advertising the event defined the participants as “little people”. AnimaNaturalis is compiling a complaint for a breach of the law.

On Monday July 10, AnimaNaturalis also fiercely protested against animal cruelty following the death of a bull during the ‘Bous A La Mar’ festivities in the Alicante town of Denia, and published a video of the distressing scene.

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Written by

Jo Pugh

Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.