How democratic is democracy? A question from the case of the popular consultations in Colombia.

The purpose of this paper is to analyse a new constitutional trend of democracy that is shaping the exploitation of natural resources in the Global South. As a result of recent Colombian Constitutional Court rulings and the appliance of constitutional participatory democracy mechanisms, local communities and authorities are able to hinder mining exploitation or oil drilling projects settled by national authorities.

Indeed, local communities and regional authorities have used popular consultations as a way to know local population´s opinion, about extractive projects as an issue of notorious “local interest”. At the moment, eight popular consultations have been made, all with a majority vote against the extractive projects. And after the law, those results are mandatory.

In this frame, this paper aims to deepen the real understanding of democracy in a constitutional state, as well as the limits of democratic mechanisms to determine other constitutional intererests.