Mayan Ruins in Guatemala Could Become a U.S.-Funded Tourist Attraction

Deep in a dense, tropical Guatemalan forest lies the ancient Mayan city of El Mirador. It is more than 2,000 years old, but the site at the center of a current debate over who gets to dictate its future, as well as that of the surrounding jungle: particular communities, or foreign scientists.

On one side of the battle is Dr. Richard Hansen. An American archeologist who’s dedicated much of his life to El Mirador, Hansen has been trying to build a privately-managed park in the area for the last 20 years. He says it would protect the ruins and jungle — a UNESCO-designated forest called the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) — more effectively than the Guatemalan state is willing or able to.

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