The Montes Azules jungle in Mexico, near the Guatemala border, is one of the largest remaining pockets of tropical rainforest in North America — and the battle to save it has created unusual political bedfellows, to say the least. The Lacandon people, who have lived in Montes Azules for centuries and legally own much of the reserve, have squared off against other indigenous people from the nearby highlands, who have moved into the area and begun carving farms out of the wilderness. Conservation International is backing the Lacandon, saying the incoming farmers are destroying the land and ultimately imperiling their own livelihoods, because the soil in the area can yield crops for only a few seasons. Meanwhile, the Zapatistas, who have sometimes suspected environmentalists of fronting for corporations planning to exploit the jungle, are backing settlement in the region, saying indigenous farmers are the best protectors of the rainforest. So far, the most likely losers seem to be the 340 species of birds and dozens of endangered plants and animals that call the reserve home.

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