Guatemala | Disgruntled residents, drug traffickers drive deforestation in Laguna del Tigre NP
A patrol of eleven men is hiking along a rough jungle trail spotted with the blackened foliage of several small brush fires. Nearby trees, smoke-stained at their bottoms but still alive, are painted with a messy green “M” for La Mestiza, the peasant community staking a claim on the area.
Authorities consider La Mestiza residents to be intruders, as their village falls within Laguna del Tigre National Park, the largest such park in Guatemala. But community members have defended what they say is their right to live on the land and to use its resources, in some cases even resorting to violence.