Mexican Environmentalist Jailed on Defamation Charges
MEXICO CITY One of Mexico's best-known environmental activists has been arrested on charges of defaming a businessman in the Caribbean coast resort of Cancun after she protested the questionable importation of dolphins for an aquatic theme park.
In a telephone interview from the Cancun municipal jail, Araceli Dominguez, the leader of the Environmental Group of the Mayan Land, said police arrested her on a Cancun street Saturday, held her over the weekend and offered to consider releasing her on bail Monday.
Dominguez refused bail, saying freedom of expression was at stake in the case. "I don't mind being in jail, if it means defending freedom of information," she said.
"It was a complete injustice," Dominguez said. "I was detained like a criminal for allegedly saying something to a newspaper." She said some local newspaper reporters apparently face similar charges, but have not been arrested.
Dominguez said she was accused of defaming one of the owners of Parque Nizuc by saying a dolphin had died there; in 2003, the park imported at least two dozen dolphins from the Solomon Islands, which was then experiencing a civil conflict.
The park was not immediately available to comment on the case. In fact, at least two dolphins did die at the park, and the dolphin exhibit was temporarily closed by authorities because the operators had failed to isolate the Solomon Islands dolphins from other dolphins.
In 2003, Dominguez led a march of about 200 demonstrators wearing gray foam dolphin hats to Cancun's city hall to demand the release of the Solomon Islands dolphins.
Activists say it is cruel to capture the sea mammals, separate them from their environments and make them perform in theme parks.
Source: Associated Press