Mexico’s indigenous Lacandon battle farmers over rainforest

MEXICO CITY —Mexico’s few remaining indigenous Lacandon say settlers are threatening their ancestral home, the last pocket of tropical rainforest in North America.

There are only about 1,500 Lacandones left, scattered in a handful of settlements across the 1,280-square-mile (3,312-square-kilometre) Montes Azules jungle reserve on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala.

Over the years, other indigenous groups like the Tzeltales and Choles have settled in the jungle. But the settlers plant large fields and raise cattle, something the Lacandones don’t do.

In August, residents of the reserve held elections for officials who will mark each group’s territory in the reserve, and the Lacandones say they were locked out by their more numerous, newer neighbours.

Lacandon leader Chankin Chambor said Thursday, “We are the owners of the Lacandon jungle; we conserve it.”

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