An eight-year-old Spanish boy with bone cancer has received a number of “vile” messages from animal rights campaigners after joining a group of matadors for a lap of honour during a charity bullfight. The event, which aimed to raise money for the children’s cancer unit in a Valencia hospital, saw Adrián Hinojosa receive messages telling him “just die already.”
Adrián, who told local media he has always dreamed of becoming a bullfighter, is currently undergoing chemotherapy for a rare type of bone cancer known as Ewing Sarcoma, which has a 30% mortality rate in children.
“This is a dream come true,” the boy said when he was lifted onto the shoulders of one of the competing matadors, waving the bullfighter’s hat as he was carried for a lap around the ring.
But Spain’s vocal anti-bullfight campaigners almost immediately expressed disgust at what they perceived to be a publicity stunt.
“What do I think? I’m not going to be politically correct,” one commenter on Facebook wrote. “So... just die. Just die already. A sick child who wants to get better so that he can kill innocent and healthy herbivores who also want to live. Come on! Adrián, you’re going to die.”
The account of the poster has since been deleted, but it was not the only critique the eight-year-old cancer patient received. On Twitter, Manuel Ollero wrote: “What? More needless spending going on the treatment of Adrián, a child with cancer who wants to be a bullfighter and cut ears off,” a reference to how prize-winning matadors cut the ears off the bulls they have killed in the ring.
The reaction on social media to the anti-bullfighting comments saw Spain’s bullfighting community mobilise to publically support Adrián and his family. The Toro de Lidia Foundation, an organisation that mounted a legal battle in July when anti-bullfighting activists gloated about the death of a 29-year-old matador live on TV while he was in a bullring, has said it will file a legal complaint against those responsible for the posts.
On Twitter, Adrián’s mother Eve wrote: “We only ask for respect for a child who is going through a bad time and for his family too, who only want to help realise his dreams. Respect.”
— Eve forever (@Evelin31817088) October 9, 2016
Bullfighting remains one of the most controversial cultural activities in Spain, having been banned in Catalonia and on the Canary Islands for animal cruelty. Every year thousands of tourists and Spaniards flock to cities like Pamplona, taking part in the risky running of the bulls, a cultural event many have likened to animal cruelty.