New electric ‘horse-power free’ carriages become a reality in Mérida

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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.
The arrival of the electric tourist carriages has been celebrated by animal welfare groups, but whether or not they fully replace traditional horse-drawn calesas is yet to be seen. Photo: Courtesy

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.

Mérida Mayor Renán Barrera Concha has endorsed a longstanding proposal to promote horseless carriages for tourists. Photo: Courtesy

The carriages are a tradition going back over 105 years, said Medina Borges, adding that it is important that this tradition be preserved.

Earlier: New law to drive bullfighting out of Mexico City

Horse-drawn carriages for the purposes of tourism exist only in Guadalajara, Motul, Izamal, Cozumel and Mérida.

Widely reported instances of horses collapsing in Izamal and Mérida have brought much attention to the cause of animal welfare, as have other recent incidents. 

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. 

Bloodsports such as cockfighting and bullfighting are still popular among some segments of society, despite protests from animal rights groups.

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