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URGENT: Help Stop Bull Torture ‘Festival’ in Mexico

January 31, 2012


Every year on February 1 in Tlacotalpan—a city in the Mexican state of Veracruz—bulls are horrifically tortured during the “Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria” festival. Liquor is poured down the bulls’ throats, and the animals are tied to boats and dragged across a river before being set loose in the streets. Participants then chase and beat the terrified animals and stab them with bats and knives. The torture continues for hours as drunken residents throw bricks and trash at the animals, kick and punch them, and cut off their ears. Surviving bulls are then turned out to pasture, no doubt left to suffer from their injuries. For photos of this barbaric event, click here. The festival runs through February 9 and also includes gruesome chicken fights and horse races.

Despite a ban put in place in 2006 by the governor of Veracruz, the festival continues. Furthermore, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has named Tlacotalpan a “World Heritage Site,” a prestigious title given to locations of cultural or physical significance.

Please contact city and state officials and urge them to ban this bloody and sadistic “tradition.” Ask UNESCO to revoke Tlacotalpan’s World Heritage Site status in light of this shameful event, and let Mexican tourism officials know that you will not travel to Tlacotalpan or Veracruz until this horrifying festival is brought to an end.

Send polite comments to the below contacts.


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Katherine Grigsby
UNESCO Mexican Delegation

The Honorable Javier Duarte de Ochoa
Governor of Veracruz

The Honorable Esperanza Burela Villegas
Mayor of Tlacotalpan

The Honorable Gloria Guevara Manzo
Minister of Tourism of Mexico 

The Mexico Tourism Board

UNESCO World Heritage Center, Paris


Dear Director Grigsby, Honorable de Ochoa, Villegas, and Manzo, and those to whom it concerns:

I am writing today to share my disturbance regarding the ritual “Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria”, which is scheduled to occur in early February.  I have learned that this event is characterized by the methodical torture and potential slaughter of  bulls by participants.  During this event, bulls are systematically brutalized, their ears ripped off and bodies subjected to liquor, kicking, punching, bats, knives, and other methods of torment. This unremitting torture is inflicted on the bull while he is fully conscious, subjecting him to what can only be considered excruciating pain and prolonged suffering: death typically does not occur for days as surviving bulls are set to pasture with their injuries. With utmost respect, I plea with you to intervene to cease this animal cruelty.

This event is considered a cultural tradition, a celebration of heritage and a demonstration of courage and strength. While I would never embrace such an egotistical belief that my opinions take precedent over established and sacred customs, any “tradition”, however, that is built on a foundation of extreme animal cruelty, exploitation, and suffering, and which inflicts pain and fear on innocent, sentient animals, is neither justified, nor an expression of historical or residential pride. There can be no honor amongst those who condemn animals to such depraved actions substantiating my disturbance that such animal cruelty is perpetuated by the inaccurate conviction that this ritual is based on cultural significance.  Violence, however, only breeds more violence: when animal cruelty is received with cultural tolerance, both violence and acceptance escalates, the result of which is societal impunity towards human suffering.

As such, I, along with a global contingent of concerned citizens, respectfully request that you cease this cruel event.  Until such a time as this event is banned, however, I will not consider traveling to visit Veracruz or your city, and I will share this boycott request with friends, colleagues, and online social groups.  Please provide your voice for others to observe their obligatory duty and responsibility by protecting animals, not condoning their torture; your ethical gesture of compassion would serve as an international model of empathy.

Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent issue.



this is not festivity
it is an exercise
in violent proclivities
cruel, blood painful, sad
who would do this
they have to be mad:(

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

4 Comments leave one →
  1. karen lyons kalmenson permalink
    January 31, 2012 4:25 pm

    this is not festivity
    it is an exercise
    in violent proclivities
    cruel, blood painful, sad
    who would do this
    they have to be mad:(


    January 31, 2012 4:28 pm



  3. Sharon Kennedy permalink
    February 2, 2012 2:37 pm

    Mexico is a country that embraces the Catholic faith….it is egregious that this nation continues to violate God’s laws of love and compassion. In the words of God, we are not to do harm or injury to His holy mountain (earth or its creatures). In the words of Jesus: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.” We expect God to bless us with peace and prosperity and yet we the societies of the world allow crime, sin, and violence to be done to women, children, the elderly and to our brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom.

    Christ is depicted as the Lamb of God, yet we send sheep to the slaughter house, the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove appeared at Jesus baptism (the dove belongs to the pigeon family) yet people do harm and injury to pigeons across the globe, we are instructed by God to learn from the ant, the eagle, the cony, the spider, throughout the Bible we see how precious creation is to God, and yet our societies continue to do sin and bloodshed against our brothers and sisters from the animal kingdom….All nations deserve the wrath of God for doing wickedness to those creatures who like us are formed in the Hand of the Father and carry His breath and are here by His generosity and for His purpose.


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