Animal rights activists are calling for Mérida’s horse-drawn carriages to be phased out.
The activists are planning a rally in front of the Cathedral on Saturday, demanding an end to the practice.
“There is no excuse to use horses in this way. These animals suffer so much, especially when it is as hot as now,” said activist Elsa Arceo.
Horse-drawn carriages are popular among visitors to Mérida who hire them for tours around downtown and the Paseo de Montejo.
Carriages fit up to four passengers and charge about 300 pesos for a ride.
Last month, a local woman shared on Facebook photos of a carriage horse that had toppled over apparently due to overheating and exhaustion.
Protest organizers say that it is not their intention to do away with the carriages themselves, just with the exploitation of the horses.
“One possible solution to this problem would be to seek funding from the city government to equip the existing carriages with electric motors,” suggested a demonstration organizer, Anahi Tecalco.
Activists say that they do not want carriage conductors to lose their jobs, but argue that they should not justify the practice by arguing that using horses is traditional.
But the carriage operators do not see it that way.
“Equipping carriages with motors would be like taking the towers off from the cathedral, it just would not be the same. In what sense would it even be a carriage anymore? it would just be like any other car at that point,” said carriage conductor Eduardo Echeverría.
Conductors argue that they do the best they can for their horses. They say are well fed and receive monthly health checkups courtesy of the state university veterinary faculty.
In February, authorities in the State of Mexico passed a law banning the use of horses and donkeys for heavy labor, which includes the pulling of carriages within city boundaries.