Neoextractivism and Class Formation: Lessons from the Orinoco Mining Arc Project in Venezuela
The Arco Minero del Orinoco (Orinoco Mining Arc—AMO) project, launched in 2016, demonstrates that Bolivarian governments have been unsuccessful in overcoming extractivism and rentier capitalism as structuring foundations of the Venezuelan state and its politics, but it simultaneously confirms that these governments remain supported by a bloc made up of heterogeneous class fractions primarily amalgamated around a demand for socioeconomic development. Mining extractivism is the focus of a rapid readjustment of regional and national class formation. The implementation of the Orinoco Mining Arc project could reactivate government-led redistribution in the short-to-medium term, reversing the deterioration of living conditions of the popular classes and potentially reactivating participation of some of their members in small and medium-sized economic ventures. However, given the political conditions under which the project was launched, the main immediate beneficiaries (to different degrees) are capital holders, corporatist groups within the state apparatus, and sectors of the indigenous population directly involved in extractivism.
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