Jailed because she spoke out for dolphins

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2005:

CANCUN, Mexico–Dolphin defender Araceli
Dominguez, chair of Grupo Ecologista del Mayab
(GEMA), was released from jail without charges on
April 28, 2005, five days after she was
detained on a libel writ filed by Bernardo
Zambrano, owner of the Atlantida dolphinarium
and Parc Nizuc Wet N’ Wild swim-with-dolphins
attraction.
Zambrano, son of CEMEX cement company
chair Lorenzo Zambrano, claimed Dominguez
defamed him by reporting that a dolphin recently
died at one of his facilities.
Dominguez “was released in the early
morning hours, just after a representative of
the Governor of the State of Quintana Roo went
around midnight personally to the prison,”
e-mailed Ntailan Lolkoki of Ecoterra
International.
“Zambrano was forced to drop all criminal
charges against Dominguez [and co-defendants] Sara Rincon, head of the Association to Protect
Animals of Cancun, Cecilia Navarro from
Greenpeace Mexico, Ben White of the Animal
Welfare Institute, five local reporters, and
Yolanda Alaniz from Comarino,” the Ecoterra
announcement continued.

Comarino is pursuing parallel civil and
criminal cases against Parc Nizuc in connection
with the allegedly illegal July 2003 import of 28
dolphins who were captured in the Solomon Islands
and flown to Mexico during a time of civil
unrest. Six dolphins who were part of the
transaction are believed to have died.
Dominguez and GEMA “filed a complaint in
the first week of April with the Federal
Environmental Protection Prosecutor’s branch in
the state of Quintana Roo that suspended the
building of a proposed dolphin tank adjacent to
the Casa Maya resort in Cancun’s hotel zone,”
reported Talli Nauman, cofounder and co-director
of Journalism to Raise Environmental Aware-ness.
JREA is a Mexican-based project funded by the
MacArthur Foundation.
Also active on behalf of other animals,
Dominguez was among the half dozen correspondents
in four nations whose research informed the April
2005 ANIMAL PEOPLE front page article
“Demolition, eviction, & good deeds that save
animal shelters.” At request of ANIMAL PEOPLE,
Dominguez investigated the February 5 pre-dawn
partial demolition of the Asociaciòn Provida
Animal, A.C. shelter in Cancun by the
construction firm Opresa S.A. de C.V., which
intends to build a shopping plaza on the site.
ANIMAL PEOPLE was among numerous
organizations that objected to Dominguez’ arrest
in e-mails to Vicente Fox, President of Mexico.
44 dolphins still held
The Zambrano action against Dominguez
revived attention not only to the plight of the
dolphins in Cancun, but also to the reportedly
deteriorating circumstances of 44 dolphins,
captured at the same time, who remain in a sea
pen in the Solomons. The captures were organized
by Waves Consulting, formed by Christopher
Porter, 35, a Canadian whose wife is reportedly
a Solomon Islander. Porter previously handled
marine mammals at Sealand of the Pacific in
Victoria, British Columbia, now defunct; the
Vancouver Aquarium; and the Aquario di Genova in
Italy. He is believed to be seeking funding to
build a swm-with-dolphins facility in the
Solomons.
The government of the Solomons in late
2004 forbade further dolphin exports, reportedly
blocking transactions that Porter had arranged
with buyers in Fiji and Panama. The World
Society for the Protection of Animals and Earth
Island Institute each claimed credit for winning
the export ban.
Ric O’Barry, who originally investigated
the Solomons captures for WSPA and now represents
One Voice, of France, told ANIMAL PEOPLE that
the key was that “Earth Island Institute put word
out to the international canned tuna market,
asking everyone to not import Solomon Islands
product until they banned dolphin captures and
transports. The canning companies were about to
lose 1000 jobs. Two thousand fishers were about
to be laid off. This got their undivided
attention. During a recent meeting, Tione
Bugotla, permanent secretary of Fisheries for
the Solomon Islands, told me and Mark Berman of
Earth Island Institute that, ‘The ban will not
be lifted, and it can not be reversed.'”
O’Barry also credited Berman with
possibly saving his life by discovering him
unconscious and running a dangerously high
temperature on the floor of a Brisbane hotel room
en route to the Solomons. O’Barry, who had been
incapacitated with a fever for several days, was
diagnosed as having pneumonia, and was
hospitalized overnight, but fled the hospital
against medical advice to complete the mission.

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