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Project July 7, 2008

Guatemala: The Future of Petén


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In the remote Petén region of northern Guatemala, environmentalists are fighting environmentalists in a behind-the-scenes ideological conflict over how best to save the vast but rapidly shrinking Maya forest.

American archaeologists, Guatemalan bankers and the country's government have aligned to support an ambitious plan to protect hundreds of thousands of acres and support the excavation of ancient Maya cities with tourist dollars. But some international green groups, which in the 1990s helped local communities win the right to build "sustainable" logging businesses on overlapping lands, say new, large-scale tourism would sweep away the local-empowerment movement they've worked so hard to build.