The debate surrounding land reform is back on the development agenda with a consensus amongst academics that the severe unequal distribution of land in developing countries is the main cause of persistent levels of poverty and inequality in the countryside. In Venezuela, a state-led agrarian reform programme is being pursued. This programme is designed with the most promising elements to offset strong landlord resistance, alleviate poverty, and increase agricultural productivity in the context of food sovereignty; but key weaknesses in the implementation and institutionalization of the programme hinder its ability to be fully effective. Three key weaknesses have been identified – corruption and political sabotage; private intermediaries; and a lack of regulation. The ability of the state and society to overcome these key weaknesses will dictate whether this agrarian reform programme can make for a successful and productive agrarian transformation or whether its inconsistency and its lack of capacity will lead to a crisis of legitimacy and increased conflicts. The state-society relationship and ability to confront and adapt to such challenges will determine long-term outcomes.