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Articles by Saul Paau Maaz

Saul Paau Maaz is a 30-year-old Q’eqchí Maya leader.

Featured Article

Cross-posted from RH Reality Check.

Growing up in the deep, lush jungle of Petén in Guatemala, under an endless green canopy, I learned that human life and the natural world are inseparable. My parents and grandparents taught me that people are just one element of Mother Nature; her protection and care is our responsibility.

For generations, my people, the Maya Q’eqchi’, have inhabited the Petén, which has always been sacred for its forests, which shelter a diverse array of animals and plants. The wealth of those forests extends well beyond Guatemala’s borders: In fact, researchers describe them as the Americas’ “third lung” because of their oxygen production.

But today, my homeland is in trouble. Its biological wealth is threatened by drug farms, road building, cattle ranching, forest fires, and rapid population growth. Multinational companies are destroying the forests, as are sprawling human settlements. The jungle where I was born is now a disaster area, plundered and exploited. Every year, 100 to 150 square miles of forest are lost. In less than three and a half decades, Petén’s forest cover has shrunk from 90 p... Read more