In Latin-America, we cannot understand contemporary political economy and development without taking into consideration extractivism, which is a development project based on the commodification of natural resources, and the extensive extraction of raw materials and its subsequent export. However, this model of development which is being promoted by the Colombian government as one of the primary sources of income to finance its functioning represents a specific way of transforming nature which clashes with social and cultural identities.
In that vein, in Colombia, popular consultations are increasingly becoming an important institution to ask local communities about their position regarding the mode of development to be implemented in their territories. And, since the year 2013, when the first consultation of this type took place, more than forty-four towns are organizing similar initiatives to ask their inhabitants about their approval or disapproval of extractivist projects.
According to the above, the manifestation of local communities through participatory mechanisms about mining projects it is generating a scenario where extractivism and participatory democracy intersect. In light of the relationship between these two processes, in this paper, I would like to deliberate upon the following questions: why did citizens start to use participatory actions to reject mining projects? How do we explain the emergence of consultations about mining projects? What is the nature of the tension reflected by popular consultations where local communities have expressed their opposition to mining projects developed by multinational companies in Colombia?