These town’s deal with local security issues. Here is a local man locked up in a makeshift prison for an offense.

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Indigenous Autonomy in Mexico

Scott Brennan | Mexico

This photographic project focuses on two indigenous populations that are working in order to enact social and environmental justice in the face of some of the world’s most dangerous elements of organized crime and corruption. The communities are Santa Maria de Ostula and Cherán K’eri, both in the notoriously violent state of Michoacan in southern Mexico. These two municipalities have begun social movements of ethnically and culturally indigenous peoples 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 are based on a clause of the Mexican Constitution. This clause, Article 2, allows indigenous towns to govern themselves in traditional means that fall outside of the institutionalized Mexican political system. These movements, initiated by Mexico’s most dispossessed, marginalized populations demonstrate their capability to find their own solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems: crime, lack of education, disappearing cultural heritage, environmental degradation and corruption.

My name is Scott Brennan and I’m originally from New York and I’ve been living in Mexico since 2010. My main interest in photography is documenting the struggles of indigenous groups in Latin America and their ongoing fights to defend their territories and cultures. I graduated with a Master’s degree in 2005 from The London College of Communication in photojournalism and documentary photography under Patrick Sutherland and Paul Lowe. I’ve freelanced for The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Ground Truth Project, The BBC, Tlachinollan and Amnesty International. This project is fiscally sponsored by The Blue Earth Alliance and this year won first place for Pictures of the Year International’s Community Awareness Award.

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