During the 1980's the Kekchi Maya of Guatemala found themselves in the middle of a conflict between leftist guerrillas and the government. The ladino guerrillas, based in the surrounding forests, demanded food and shelter from the Maya. In retribution, Guatemalan death squads killed 150,000 people and disappeared another 40,000. Tens of thousands of refugees fled to Mexico and the United States while those who remained were moved into "model" villages were all men were required to enlist in civil patrols.
Today, in Chiapas, Mexico, the Maya people are once again caught between the Zapatistas rebels and the Mexican government. There seems to be no end to the threats to the Maya way of life. Fundamentalist missionaries are also responsible for destroying the Maya culture with a more insidious, though nonviolent, strategy. In the Lacandon forest, the harvesting of the great mahoganies is not only destroying the precious rainforest, but is also seriously jeopardizing the remote Lacandon Maya community.
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