This research paper analyses the transformation process that has taken place in Venezuelan agrarian politics and policymaking during the past decade. It is argued that the Bolivarian process is best conceptualized as a countermovement (in the Polanyian sense) to the expansion of free market capitalism that characterized most of Venezuela’s republican life. The argument is supported by a comparative historical analysis of two key moments in national agrarian politics and policymaking: the agrarian reform of 1961 and the land and agrarian development framework of 2001. The argument is made that important changes have been undertaken in agrarian structures and institutions aiming to re-embed the market in political and social control and to undermine the hitherto predominating ‘(neo)liberal creed’, which is deemed essentially anti-political. The current reforms, in short, are successfully bringing politics back in agrarian development through the promotion of redistributive measures and the democratization of food production and distribution. Challenges do remain however, in a process that is not yet consolidated and straightforward, but rather filled with tensions and contradictions. Key questions are reflected upon and the nature of the Bolivarian Revolution is underscored as a process in construction, whose future, to a large extent, depends on the prospect of social movements to effect positive change.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Venezuela, Agrarian Politics, Land Reform, Agrarian Reform, Food Sovereignty
Thesis Advisor Borras, Saturnino
Persistent URL
Series Agricultural and Rural Development (ARD)
Gomez Ruiz, M.A. (2012, December 14). Politicizing Agrarian Development: Land and Power Redistribution in Venezuela. Agricultural and Rural Development (ARD). Retrieved from