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Sustainability Science

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 677–691 | Cite as

Inside and beyond the Petro-State frontiers: geography of environmental conflicts in Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution

Special Feature: Original Article The EJAtlas: Ecological Distribution Conflicts as Forces for Sustainability
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: The EJAtlas: Ecological Distribution Conflicts as Forces for Sustainability

Abstract

Venezuela is well known for its century-old oil economy, which has significantly shaped its social fabrics, territories, and eco-systems. Since 1999, the Bolivarian Revolution has led to important transformations in the context of the ‘Socialism of the 21st century’ project, but the extractivist model has deepened. This situation has created or intensified several ecological distribution conflicts, which have been further exacerbated by an extraordinary national crisis unleashed in the period 2013–2016. In this paper, a geography of the 20 most emblematic and representative socio-environmental conflicts in the period of the Bolivarian Revolution is presented. From a comparative political ecology perspective, this article aims to understand how power relations are expressed through territorial configurations and spatial dynamics of resistance, and what are the implications for sustainability. It is argued that a remarkable new situation of environmental injustice is occurring in this period. Despite the ‘eco-socialist’ discourse raised, the current Petro-State has updated the traditional regime on eco-systems, territories, and human bodies primarily by resorting to the assimilation of socio-environmental conflicts through a strategic distribution policy of oil rents. However, it has maintained a pattern of ecological degradation and social marginalization as an outcome of its economic development model. The current context of crisis has fostered intense territorial disputes and conditions for the emergence of new social actors, practices, scenarios, and geographies linked to underground economies and criminal bands, which complicate an already concerning scenario of unsustainability. The current extractivist model is reaching a breaking point. New commodity frontiers have become a main area of dispute.

Keywords

Environmental conflicts Petro-State Commodity frontiers Venezuela Environmental justice Extractivism Bolivarian Revolution Political ecology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I greatly appreciate the contributions and support of Fundayacucho, Joan Martínez-Alier, Helen Zaiser, Jun Shimada, Hugo Sánchez, Iokiñe Rodríguez, Leah Temper, Ansel Renner, Cruz Mariela Salazar, Fulvia Calcagni, Oscar Rodríguez, Liliana Buitrago, Leonardo Bracamonte, Francisco Herrera, Lena Weber, and Francisco Javier Velasco.

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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICTA, Universitàt Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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