The party honoring San Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona, Spain was immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Sun Also Rises."
White House officials announced earlier this month that President Obama will head to Spain in July. He plans to meet with Spain’s King Felipe VI and the country's acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, according to White House press secretary, Josh Earnest.
At a press conference, Earnest noted that Obama will be in Spain July 9 to 11, when the Festival of San Fermín is being celebrated in Pamplona with its famous “Running of the Bulls” for a week beginning July 6.
"I suspect that he probably is interested in attending San Fermin," Earnest told reporters, noting that he wasn't certain if the president’s schedule would allow it.
Few topics about Spanish culture cause more heated discussions than bullfighting. Advocates call it art, while opponents say it’s cruel.
Daniel Carron, Outreach Coordinator from, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is solidly in the latter camp.
On Wednesday PETA, working with the Spanish animal rights group AnimaNaturalis, sent a letter to Obama, asking that he forgo the festival. The running ends at the bullring, where the animals used in the run are fought and killed that evening.
“No matter how you try to disguise this event, it’s hideous and barbaric,” Carron told Fox News Latino.
“This event has been condemned by the majority of the compassionate people of Spain. They’re calling it sick and cruel. It’s literally ripping body parts off the animal and calling them trophies. It’s a small group that can make that argument that it’s cultural, and those are probably people who are exploiting the animal and making a profit from it,” Carron said.
PETA’s letter appeals to the fact that Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize-winner and, therefore, should not be associated with the event.
The letter describes the festival as a crowded, drunken cesspool of violent animal abuse – with bulls being released onto narrow streets poked and prodded, encouraging them to panic and stampede. Often the animals – as well as the humans – sustain injuries such as broken bones caused by slippery cobblestones.
Once at the bullring, the animals are “forced to 'fight' for their lives as men on horses taunt and stab them, running them in circles until [the bulls] are dizzy, weak from blood loss and in pain. When they are finally near death, the matador — whose title translates to 'killer' in Spanish — plunges a sword between [its] shoulder blades,” the PETA letter reads.
Although aficionados insist bullfighting is Spain's fiesta nacional, second only to soccer as the passion of the country, Carron says a lot of people in the country are working hard to end the event.
“The reality is, it continues because tourists go. Most people who go say they’re sickened by it. PETA Latino is very involved at ending bullfighting worldwide and getting info to naïve tourists. The people in Spain don’t want it,” Carron told FNL.
Not unlike the recent killing of Harambe, the gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo who dragged a toddler who had fallen into its enclosure or the marine animals at Seaworld, PETA believes unequivocally that animals should never be used for human entertainment or be held in captivity.
An online poll by Ipsos MORI for World Animal Protection found that only 19 percent of adults in Spain between the ages of 16 and 65 who said they supported bullfighting, compared to 58 percent who opposed it.
Carron told FNL that getting President Obama to skip Pamplona is a short-term goal, but ending the Running of the Bulls altogether is the ultimate goal.
Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.