A reader's letter

It wasn't the first and I fear it won't be the last. Her name is Monica and from what I can deduce she is one of the many European citizens who have chosen to live on the Costa del Sol. She says she is from Austria, although her written Spanish is better than that of many 'malagueños'. But it wasn't only her language skills that caught my attention. Her desperate appeal proved that she isn’t content with the 300 days of sunshine, the spectacular quality of life and the long evenings with wine and jasmine. She wants to do something to change the land that has taken her in and make it a better place.

Monica is indignant. “You, your voice and the impact it has are my last hope,” she writes. “I know, I simply know, that in Tordesillas they are going to torture the Príncipe bull in all ways possible, dodging the law, cheating justice, with the silent or open consent of the authorities and police.”

She is clearly talking of the Toro de la Vega festival, held on 12 September.

“I was very excited to come from my country to live here and since then I have been fighting for welfare and against animal cruelty,” her letter continues. “I simply refuse to believe that an entire village can ‘enjoy themselves’ (at a festival dedicated to a Virgen, what’s more) mistreating a beautiful and noble animal. Desperate, I ask for your help, and I know that a lot of Spanish and foreign people are with me, as we have no means of our own to reach public opinion, which I trust is civilised, understanding and strong, and will be capable of changing things,” she concludes.

Really it’s not the reason for her letter that matters. People write to me about the puppies left half-dead in boxes outside animal shelters; about the abandoning and slaughter of hunting dogs at the end of the season; about the relaxation of the laws, which let the perpetrators of all sorts of atrocities against defenceless creatures go unpunished; about the scarce means of the welfare organisations to cope with the consequences of animal cruelty, which is so widespread it ought to be considered a matter of state in Spain.

Every letter, every note, every comment such as this one, makes me feel the same anger, the same embarrassment caused by the image we are sending out of a country that is the archenemy of animals, unworthy of calling itself civilised and European.