A donkey has been booked into the town jail in San Sebastián Río Dulce, Oaxaca, apparently for unpaid property taxes.
According to its owners, municipal agent Dionisio Cruz Ramírez ordered the animal’s arrest so that the couple could not transport the firewood they use to cook.
But Pascual Cruz and Alejandra Mejía, 88 and 86 years old respectively, appear to be caught up in a power struggle between two groups in the community vying for control of local resources.
The couple maintain that they only use firewood transported by the donkey for domestic purposes, and not for economic gain.
They also claim to have been refused the right to take the animal food and water during several days of imprisonment.
The incarceration was denounced by the Network of United Animal Rights Activists of Oaxaca.
“It may not be of much interest or importance to others, but it is for the animal’s owners,” said the organization in a Facebook post, “given that it is one of their most valuable possessions, since they use it to transport firewood from the hills to their home.”
Aside from gathering firewood, the social conflict in San Sebastián Río Dulce has impeded residents from using the community basketball court or church, even burying their dead, if they are unable to pay the taxes imposed by the authorities.
Residents have also reported crops being destroyed as punishment for unpaid taxes.
It is not the first time a donkey has been locked up in Oaxaca.
A similar situation occurred 25 years ago in Etla when a donkey damaged a neighbor’s home. A public official ordered the animal’s arrest when its owners refused to pay for the damages.
Source: Milenio (sp)