Maya Guardians from Guatemala

Dec 13, 2015 | written by:

Guatemala is known for a few news we receive from medias on its unstable political situation, or for drug trade and other traffics always illegal. Brainiacs would remember also Mayas, if Mexico did not overcome them in the old history books. It's a poor country even in the first millennium of our era was a place rich and highly populated.

Nowadays it still houses a big wealth for humans: the rainforest, a huge emitter of CO2 and a natural carbon reservoir and the key to stop climate change. Exactly among the ancient trees of the forest, there is a humble business exporting xate, a popular plant known in flower shops all over the world from Kansas to Kyoto, which is part of a program of radical redistribution of lands with global implications. Started at the end of the brutal civil war, in 36 years the program has incubated dozens of sustainable industries owned by communities that generate millions of dollars to build schools and hospitals in the villages of indigenous Petén.

Moreover, the program has stopped deforestation that was destroying the forest and the whole climate. The idea is very simple: a dozen cities have signed up to monitor an area of about one million acres from illegal activities such as deforestation and trafficking of drugs. In return, they receive the rights to use the land and the products obtained as a result of cultivations. They are affectionately called Maya Guardians, since they have to fight daily with loggers, drug couriers and the national government itself because it might, one day, take away their rights of usufruct of the land.

All these aspects have been discussed at Cop21 in Paris, to raise awareness of the situation and of the need to protect them, partly because a new report from the World Resources Institute shows how deforestation have been reduced: every tree cut was replanted and the migratory movement, from Guatemala to US, has been decreased thanks to the better conditions of life. But the most imported thing is the demonstration of how the locals are the perfect candidates to preserve the environment. Furthermore populations of Petén and Carmelita, two of the main villages presented in the program, have been actively involved in the project: thanks to all the activities they are finally economically independent. Products harvested could be sold in the markets providing an employment also to women. A method and a way of life to share with other people living the same conditions in other parts of the world.


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