Mobilizing for the petro-nation

Labor and petroleum in Ecuador

in Focaal

This article analyzes the struggles of the petroleum labor movement against the neo-liberalization of the petroleum industry in Ecuador. Though originally focused on defending collective bargaining rights, since the 1990s the movement has put forward a populist, nationalist critique of the state's governance of petroleum. The article traces the roots of the movement and focuses on two contested terrains of petroleum politics, refineries and oilfields, to examine labor's role in resource governance. The article argues that by strategically joining concerns over class and nation, over a number of administrations from the 1970s to the 2000s (from populist, military juntas, to neoliberal), the petroleum labor movement became a defining actor in petroleum governance.