Alberto Acosta
FLACSO, Ecuador


Key aspects of extractivist economies are addressed here, by presenting them as some sort of theology based on the religion of economic growth. Their determining factors are traced back to the Enlightenment and to more recent policies of a neoliberal nature. In their statements, these schemes make a case for free trade programs —even though their practice shows otherwise— overlooking other dimensions, such as the social and environmental ones. This results in a paradox that can be stated like this —natural resource-rich countries, yet development-poor countries. The buckling effects through which extractivist economies get several “illnesses” are examined here, by giving examples from Latin America. This includes processes such as the dependence of capital and technology, a mono-exporting mindset, and subordination to global markets. Unequal exchange is generated, both in the trade and the environmental sides. As a result, local communities endure serious social and environmental impacts, and various kinds of violence are exerted, including human and nature right violations. Through these ways and others, extractivisms breed a culture of miracle, as well as practices under which any criticism is deemed as heresy —all of which is a menace for democracy.

Key words:  extractivism, curse of abundance, economy, development.