Published February 22, 2018 | Version v1
Journal article Open

Dispossession and violence in the social construction of a territory: transformations associated with the oil industry in Veracruz (in Spanish)

  • 1. Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), Mexico City, Mexico
  • 2. Autonomous University of Mexico City, , Mexico
  • 3. El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico


The current phase of capitalist development –dominated by transnational financial capital– has introduced transformations that are highly predatory of social and environmental resources, thus deepening and accelerating the situation of territorial dispossession affecting human communities. We believe that this dispossession goes hand in hand with new forms of violence. In this article we explore the relationships between the forms of social and environmental transformation produced by the oil industry and the forms of violence identified in the State of Veracruz, Mexico. This region has always been the place of oil exploitation and the main source of Mexican wealth. The oil industry settled in this area and gradually transformed social and environmental relations generating a territorial reconfiguration grounded on the social and environmental dispossession of the region’s communities.


This article has been published as part of Volume 4, Number 4 of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Working Papers (

This is the first issue developed by members of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network’s Thematic Area 10, Water and Violence ( It is based on papers first presented at the session “Water and violence: scenarios and manifestations in Latin America”, during the Network’s VIII International Meeting, that took place in San Jose, Costa Rica, on 3-7 April 2017 ( The papers are the result of ongoing research covering cases from Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, which exemplify the wide range of forms of violence being exercised against local communities, mainly related to the rapid expansion of extractivist activities including large-scale open cast mining, building of large dams for hydroelectricity or the territorial spread of hydrocarbon production through new technological developments, among other. The papers provide supporting evidence for the increasing claims made in the relevant literature showing that violence is too often the result of a connivance between governments, extractivist industries and organized criminal gangs, which account for the considerable number of people being tortured, disappeared or even murdered in Latin America for defending their territories, natural resources, and living conditions. The authors also address successful cases of community resistance against the violent expropriation of their territories and living conditions, which are imposed on them by aggressive neoliberal reforms that are highly undemocratic and regressive in socio-economic and political terms.



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