Some members of Democrats Abroad who recently visited Donkey Dreamland. SUR
When the Biden campaign meets Mijas donkeys

When the Biden campaign meets Mijas donkeys

American expats in Malaga in support of the Democratic Party meet their mascot at a shelter run by a former chef on a luxury cruise ship

Cristina Vallejo


Friday, 14 June 2024, 11:35

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There is a story that links three very different worlds: American expats in Malaga who are campaigning for Joe Biden to win the presidential election in November; Amaya Isert, a former chef who sailed the seas on luxury cruises; and the donkeys of Mijas. This last group is the most important, as the donkey is the emblem of the Democratic Party, and therefore of Joe Biden. To clarify the link between this animal and its political association, Carey Ramos, chair of the Malaga precinct of Democrats Abroad, explains that in the 19th century, the US had a Democratic president called Andrew Jackson, who was "very unpleasant and had many enemies". His opposition called him a 'jackass', the word for a male donkey, and an offensive remark. The Democrats then reappropriated the word: "it went from an insult to a sign of identity," says Ramos, and they now proudly display the animal among their symbols.

Opening a donkey sanctuary

Amaya Isert was a chef on luxury cruise ships for two years. Originally from the neighbourhood of Sacromonte in Granada, she is very familiar with donkeys, which were so common in her hometown. She ended up working at the Fuente de Piedra based donkey sanctuary, originally a British charity. Later, she managed to scrape together her savings and established her own donkey sanctuary in Mijas. It was hard at the beginning, because the opening was hit by the pandemic, but in August 2020, Donkey Dreamland was launched. The work of this farm mainly involves assisting the recovery of donkeys (which can live up to 40 years), especially those that have been abandoned or suffered mistreatment at the hands of their owners, and from there, looking for an adoptive home for them. In the meantime, the public can go and ride them in the Mijas countryside. The shelter currently cares for ten donkeys, though 48 have benefitted from their facilities in the last four years.

The symbol of the US Democratic Party.

So, how did Democrats Abroad land in Donkey Dreamland? "Our mission is to register Americans living in Malaga to vote in November. In fact, we are preparing so that when American students arrive in September for various educational programmes they can register to vote," Ramos explains. "But we also want to get more involved in the Malaga community... And we are also looking to support non-profit organisations. That is how we came across Donkey Dreamland. When we suggested it, everyone at our monthly meeting backed the idea," she adds.

Raising funds

In fact, their financial contributions support the most costly part of the recovery process: the administration and the animals' health costs, as they often require surgery. Isert says that food, which costs 60 euros per animal every month, is not so expensive, although they pay 100 euros a week for water.

In their first encounter with donkeys, these dozen or so US Democrats discovered that their mascot does its fame justice: "Donkeys are stubborn; know what they want; they are not stupid at all, nor slow; they have a lot of energy," says Ramos.

Democrats Abroad liked the shelter so much that they are planning to come back in September and want to continue supporting the animal rights organisation. But they are not diverted from the focus of their main mission: mobilising American voters. Ramos says that they are a little nervous, as the polls are favouring their Republican opponent. But they say that they will do everything in their power to prevent Trump's victory.

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