U.S. Swaps Guatemalan Debt for Forest Protection
GUATEMALA CITY The United States will forgive about 20 percent of the $122 million debt owed by Guatemala so the money can be used to protect threatened plants and wildlife, the government said Monday.
The deal is the largest amount of debt forgiven under the 1998 Tropical Forest Conservation Act, which allows debt owed to the United States to be invested in protecting the environment.
Over $24 million will be set aside to sponsor conservation projects over the next 15 years in Guatemala's rain forests, mangrove reserves and volcanic mountain chains.
In recent years, Guatemala's national parks have been threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture and land grabs. Some scantily patrolled protected areas have also been taken over by illegal traffickers smuggling drugs, immigrants and looted artifacts across the porous border with Mexico.