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Indigenous Autonomy and Resistance in México
by Scott Brennan


Indigenous Autonomy and Resistance in México focuses on three Indigenous populations that are working to enact social and environmental justice in the face of some of the world’s most dangerous elements of organized crime and corruption. The allied communities are Santa María Ostula, Cherán K’eri, and San Lorenzo de Azqueltán in the states of Michoacán and Jalisco.

These three municipalities have begun social movements establishing semi-autonomous grassroots governments in response to rampant violence, corruption, environmental degradation, and the failure of the social contract. Their claims to the right to self-determination and autonomy are based on a clause of the Mexican Constitution. This clause, Article 2, allows Indigenous towns to govern themselves outside of the institutionalized Mexican political system.

In a response to violence and encroachment from drug cartels, international mining, tourism companies, plus the corruption of both state and federal institutions, these communities established local grassroots governments. Local communal security forces defend their territories in order to secure peace, and preserve important elements of their cultural heritage. These movements, initiated by Mexico’s most dispossessed, marginalized populations demonstrate a successful, collective response to some of humanity’s most pressing problems: crime, lack of education, disappearing cultural heritage, environmental degradation, and corruption.