Mexican Butterfly Forest Site of Battle Over Deforestation

Mexico’s most famous national park, the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, is home to a 10,000-year-old evergreen forest where huge clouds of orange and gold Monarch butterflies migrate each year from the U.S. and Canada. The forest is also the site of rampant crime, deforestation, and armed battles among organized mafias, poor peasants, and police. Prompted by pleas from peasants in the region and international outrage among enviros, President Vicente Fox sent the Mexican army to protect the forest last month. In the past, poor locals have protested the creation of the park and logged in it illegally, accusing the government of stealing their land, but “what was once a problem of poverty and a necessity to survive has turned into a crime of greed,” said former minister of the environment Victor Lichtinger, pointing out that the drug cartels and mafias have displaced and in some cases terrified local peasants.