One of the best articles I’ve seen on the state of the Venezuelan “Bolivarian Revolution”: it sets out its promise and the challenges and contradictions it faces. Notable among them is this:
“…the priority to preserve the planet and save the human species (environmentalism), stands in sharp opposition to the government’s plan to further strengthen the extractive industries in the country, including natural gas, mining and the development of the Faja del Orinoco, which contains the world’s largest known reserves of heavy and extra heavy crude oil, or tar sands.”
The same contradictions also face the perhaps even more fascinating and inspiring political processes in Bolivia and Ecuador. Despite both of their new constitutions defining an ecologically literate and socially just approach to prosperity (buen vivir / vivir bien – akin to Latouche’s ‘frugal prosperity’) both countries rely on extraction of minerals and hydrocarbons to fund their social programmes that are taking people out of poverty and expanding free, public healthcare and education.
The outcome will, just like the outcome of these social revolutions, depend on the balance of forces within and outside these governments – for example in Bolivia between the Pachamamista (respecting Mother Earth), indigenous, ecological, decolonising tendency and the more orthodox desarrollista (developmentalist) tendency (to oversimplify a little).