After years of negotiations, the first six electric tourist carriages arrived in Mérida.
The carriages are intended to replace horse-drawn carriages popular among visitors in Mérida’s Centro and Paseo de Montejo.
“The carriages have arrived in Mérida and the last few are now being assembled. We hope to put them to use very shortly,” said a City Hall spokesperson, Julio Sauma.
But not everyone is convinced that these electric carriages will be accepted by local conductors known as caleseros, or by tourists, for that matter.
“I think the attractiveness of this means of transport is that it has horses and if they are replaced, the rides may not be as profitable as it is now, so it is important that they ask us first about any change,” said Einar Medina Borges, secretary-general of the Union of Carriage Drivers.
The carriages are a tradition going back over 105 years, said Medina Borges, adding that it is important that this tradition be preserved.
Horse-drawn carriages for the purposes of tourism exist only in Guadalajara, Motul, Izamal, Cozumel and Mérida.
But Mérida’s caleseros insist that the problem has been overblown and that such incidents are few and far between.
“Their health is monitored under strict surveillance by the city and UADY’s veterinary faculty,” said Borges.
But controversy surrounding the use of animals as a form of entertainment or tourist attractions is not limited to horse-pulled carriages.