VOL. 4, NO. 3, PGS. 19–28


More of the Same
Latin American Extractivism in the 21st Century
Alicia Puyana Mutis

Alicia Puyana Mutis is a Research Professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, academic headquarters in Mexico. She is also the author of La economía petrolera en un mercado politizado and global: México and Colombia.

This translation has been automatically generated and has not been verified for accuracy.

Neo-extractivism is not a new economic model led by a neo-developmentalist state. It is rather the renewal of transnational capital’s penetration of Latin American commodities and some public goods (air, sun, beaches, etc.). The difference between neo-extractivism and the extractivism of the early 20th century is not its nature, but its context. The societies of commodity-exporting countries are today more urbanised, more educated, more aware of their rights, demanding equity and respect, and demanding new political and economic norms and different relationships with nature.

During the heyday of economic liberalism, economic theory and policy focused the process of economic growth on the rate of return on capital, which came to define the course of monetary, exchange rate, fiscal and labour policies. During this period, the prices of all products, as well as wages, interest and exchange rates, were sought to be similar or close to the international ones. Today, neo-extractivism deepens the insertion of Latin American economies into international trade. It allows private initiative to invest in areas to which it had no access because they were considered national property, and therefore reserved to the public sector for exploitation —uncultivated or community-owned land, water, electricity, oil and gas— and also facilitates its participation —through tax reductions, trade liberalisation and the granting of concessions to foreign investment in agriculture, forestry and mining. Thus, the economic trajectory of the past 30 years is unlikely to change at all.

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