People watched the life drain out of top Spanish matador Victor Barrio on live TV.
A bull named Lorenzo fatally gored the 29-year-old matador in the ring on Saturday, making Barrio the first professional bullfighter to be killed in the ring in more than three decades.
Barrio’s wife, Raquel Sanz, sat and watched with hundreds of other spectators in the stands in Teruel in Aragon, Eastern Spain. She watched her unconscious husband carried from the ring after being speared by the 1,200-pound bull.
Many mourned with her when she said: “My life has gone, I have no strength.”
But others did not share her grief. In public gathering places in Spain, and on the worldwide soapbox of social media, Barrio’s death sparked an emotional outcry.
The anger grew louder on Sunday when the major Spanish newspaper El País reported that, according to custom when a matador is fatally gored, Lorenzo’s mother, Lorenza, will be slaughtered to “end the lineage” of the animal now considered a “killer.”
Some who oppose bullfighting seemed to take joy in Barrio’s death, seen as revenge for the bulls.
Spanish TV presenter and adventurer Frank Cuesta shot back at Barrio’s critics, saying “it doesn’t make you any more of an animal lover just because you’re happy at the death of a human.”
Barrio’s death has fired up the longstanding debate about bullfighting, which is legal in most of Spain. Animal-rights groups around the world have campaigned for decades to stop the centuries-long tradition they consider barbaric and cruel to the animals.
Lorenzo was killed after slaying Barrio. But his mother’s fate is unclear. One Spanish newspaper reported that Lorenza had already died of natural causes a few days ago.
It didn’t matter to thousands of people on social media who campaigned Sunday to save the cow’s life using the hashtag #salvemosALorenza, “Save Lorenza.”
Spanish animal-rights group PACMA decried plans to send Lorenza “to the slaughterhouse” on its Facebook page Sunday.
“We reject the traditions based on violence, revenge and the blood,” it wrote. “No rite, tradition or custom based on a succession of deaths, fed by the blood and hatred, it can be good for any society.
“We have only known a ethical end to end all this: the total abolition of bullfighting.”
Opposition to the the sport in Spain has gained ground in recent years. A poll taken by Ipsos MORI in December 2015 showed that only 19 percent of Spaniards between the ages of 16 and 65 favored bullfighting, down from 30 percent just three years earlier.
Barrio’s widow is a Popular Party conservative politician in the town of Sepulveda whose political party supports bullfighting.
In a message to supporters, she posted a poem by a Spanish writer that ended with this: “How I would love to believe that there is glory for all those who lose their lives on the horns of bulls.”