Venezuela's Gold Heist: The Symbiotic Relationship between the State, Criminal Networks and Resource Extraction

Abstract: Venezuela is struck by a catastrophic economic crisis caused by widespread corruption, government mismanagement and lack of economic diversification. In 2016, President Maduro decreed the Orinoco Mining Arc: a large biodiverse region now destined for mining development. This article analyses harms inflicted on communities and environment following this development. Subsistence miners, local populations, and vulnerable ecosystems suffer in this struggle for power and wealth. Violent encounters by groups that aim to control mineral rich territories cause many local and regional conflicts. In these conflicts, state and criminal actors often collide or collaborate.