The North Dakota pipeline is linked to North American companies and the U.S. government's “crushing Venezuela” as they seek dirty oil extraction locally instead of doing business with the South American country that has the largest oil reserves in the world, longtime Native American activist Winona LaDuke said Sunday.
“You know, all of the catastrophes that are happening elsewhere in the world have to do with the fact that North America is retooling its infrastructure,” the executive director of the group Honor the Earth, told Democracy Now this week.
Speaking from the protests at Standing Rock, she added that in order to do that, major oil companies in the U.S. as well as the government are “going after the dirtiest oil in the world—the tar sands oil and the oil out of North Dakota, the fracked oil … it also has to do with crushing Venezuela, because Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world.”
Referring to the controversial pipeline as “filthy infrastructure," LaDuke said the push toward fracking in North Dakota and other places in North America had at its heart a policy of boycotting Venezuela due to its resistance to U.S. and Western interests.
The activist highlighted the inequality the pipeline brings with it as poor local communities struggle while billions are spent for building the infrastructure.
“I mean, these people on this reservation, they don’t have adequate infrastructure for their houses. They don’t have adequate energy infrastructure. They don’t have adequate highway infrastructure. And yet they’re looking at a $3.9 billion pipeline that will not help them. It will only help oil companies.”
The resistance movement to stop construction of the pipeline has brought together more than 100 Indigenous groups and sparked a wave of international solidarity.
Despite government orders to halt construction on a small portion of the pipeline pending a more thorough review, the companies behind the project have plowed on, desecrating sacred Native American sites and fueling the movement.
The US$3.8 billion pipeline would carry shale from the Bakken oil region in North Dakota to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast.
But the fight is far from over for those who are at the site protesting the massive and dirty infrastructure, LaDuke told Amy Goodman.
"So, a lot of people are coming here, united,” she said, adding, “a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen anymore in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.”