In Barrancos, bullfights in which the bull is killed were legalised a decade ago, meaning the town is watertight against any attempts to stop the fights from happening. Their popularity among the local community also means that the city will continue to be an exception from the tug-of-war seen throughout the rest of the country for years to come.
“This here is ‘shielded’. They can try as much as they want, here they will find an impassable barrier, the community of Barrancos. Nothing shakes us”, said Barrancos Mayor António Tereno.
Located just a stone’s throw from the Spanish border, Barrancos has long backed fights till the death. In 2002 an exceptional law was created specifically for the town allowing it to practice that type of fight due to its importance as a social tradition. It was not without controversy.
Mayor Tereno told Lusa News Agency how the fights are an intrinsic part of local tradition, and how they are carried out “religiously” by the population of Barrancos.
“Without fights till the death there are no festivities in Barrancos. If you tell any barranquenho that there will be no bullfight then there will be no festivities said 62-year-old José Gavino Garcia, who was born and raised Barrancos.
Transitionally death fights take place in the town every year over the last four days in August.
This, however, generates a huge backlash from protestors, largely animal rights defenders, despite attracting thousands of visitors from all over Portugal.
Between 1990 and 2001 Mayor Tereno says Barrancos faced “more than 100 lawsuits” but that he “won them all” as he always had “reason” on his “side.”
After dodging the law for many years, it was decided in Parliament in 2002 to created a special ‘rule of exception’ law for Barrancos, following which the tradition of killing the bull was legalised.
“It is the only place where till-the-death fights exist in Portugal”, José Gavino Garcia stressed.
The fights this year kicked off on Tuesday, 28 August, and took place until Friday.
Organisers predicted more people would visit this year than last year, including many aficionados from across the border.
Last week a sold-out bullfight took place in Viana do Castelo despite the council having taken court action to try and stop it. Its was hailed a “victory for freedom” by bullfight supporters and went ahead to a maximum capacity crowd despite hundreds of anti-bullfighting and animal rights protestors gathering in the city’s Marina gardens to carry out two demonstrations against it.