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Saturday, September 18, 2021

No more horse-drawn carriages in Mérida, activists urge

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A horse-drawn carriage pulls tourists on Mérida’s Paseo de Montejo. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

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.

2018: Carriages in steep decline over concern for the horses

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.

Earlier: Animal rights activists storm Mérida shelter, rescue 40 dogs and 2 cats

“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. 

2016: Horse rescued from abusive owner

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. 

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