The investigation was realized in order to analyze central aspects in the ongoing discussion on Indigenous Autonomy. The material presented is from the indigenous regions of Altamirano and Huixtan in Chiapas, Mexico. By examining the formation and strategies of two regional organizations that work towards autonomy, I discuss issues of social participation, power, authority, culture and territory, elements that are crucial in this debate. I argue that the struggle for autonomy, as it is concretized in these two regions, has contributed to an empowerment of the population. Through the establishment of a range of locally operated social services, the population is regaining control over their own situation and possibilities to affect decisions regarding the future of their families and their regions.
My hypothesis is that the Regional Organization for Autonomy (analytical abstraction for various organizations with regional extension that work towards autonomy) has, more than the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) and the polemic Autonomous Municipalities Zapatistas, formed the backbone of the actual construction of autonomy in the indigenous regions. In the course of my argument I will try to give answers to the following questions: Firstly, who are, and what are the motivations of the indigenous population that are working towards autonomy in the specific regions? Secondly, what strategies, general and specific, do these actors implement? Then thirdly, how do this population conceive of the issues of land and territory? And ultimately, what are the consequences or effects of the strategies, and hence the relation between people's resistance and social transformation in the regions?