Guatemala: One Forest, Many Interests

We've been in Guatemala City for four days, running around nonstop. I slept for 45 minutes after our red-eye Tuesday night and managed to motor through the following day. We spent Wednesday through Friday interviewing a variety of experts and government officials. During that time, we managed to hook up with a group of archaeologists traveling to El Mirador starting on Monday. So tomorrow we board a minibus bound for Flores, Petén, and Monday we start walking north.


Sometime in late July a group of stakeholders including President Colóm will convene in Flores to discuss the fate of the Mirador Basin and possibly make decisions about the protected status of the region. This could lead to major changes for communities in the region as tourists come in large numbers.

At issue are who gets to shape the region's environmental and economic future, who profits, and how the forest and archaeological sites fare. Various plans for tourist development are the in air, from the creation of a small-gauge train to the Mirador archaeological site to improvements in existing infrastructure so that the 2.5-day hike there is more comfortable.

Many groups have an interest in seeing the Mirador Basin developed, including conservationists, archaeologists, and Guatemalan and American businesspeople interested in investing in tourism in Mirador. ...

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