As the Dakota Access Pipeline protests wear on, some activists are arguing that the push for domestic oil production at all costs is a conspiracy to avoid doing business with troubled socialist nation Venezuela.
Native American activist Winona LaDuke spoke with Democracy Now! outside of the Red Warrior Camp about her view that the United States was pumping up its infrastructure to “go after the dirtiest oil in the world,” referring to the North Dakota tar sands and oil extracted through fracking. One of the reasons for this focus on the access pipeline, she says, is bringing down Venezuela.
“It also has to do with crushing Venezuela, because Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. And rather than do business with Venezuela, they were bound and determined to take oil from places that did not want to give it up, and create this filthy infrastructure. So, this carbon—this oil is very heavy in carbon and will add hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 to the environment, if these pipelines are allowed through. So, that is—you know, it affects everybody.”
LaDuke’s statements also go in line with official justifications for the access pipeline, which proponents say will lower the U.S.’s dependency on foreign crude oil, according to DAPL Pipeline Facts. Despite being the number one consumer, the U.S. is just the third largest producer of crude oil — 7.7 million barrels were imported per day on average in 2013.
— Alan Lee (@AlanLeeArtist) September 11, 2016
Dakota Access Pipeline aside, relations between Venezuela and the United States are some of the most contentious in the Americas. Deceased president Hugo Chavez, who many credit with kicking off the “Pink Wave” of socialist governments across Latin America, often blamed the U.S. for problems that affected the country. Whether his position is considered scapegoating or simply standing up against foreign interests largely depends on who you ask.
In response, the United States has levied sanction after sanction against Venezuela, which is at least part of the reason North Dakota is at the center of the access pipeline dispute according to LaDuke. In March of 2015, President Obama laid down an executive order that called the country’s situation an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy,” citing human rights abuses related to jailed opposition members.
Even Venezuela’s anti-government forces themselves scoffed at this statement, reported the Nation. Furthermore, the U.S. has discouraged other countries from lending to Venezuela — all the while pointing at its economic turmoil as a sign of the failures of Chavismo.
“Recent US actions have had a considerable and highly detrimental impact at a time when Venezuela is in desperate need of dollars but is prevented from gaining access to them by Washington, which has made little secret of its support for Venezuela’s anti-government opposition.”
— Brian Winter (@BrazilBrian) September 14, 2016
Venezuelan media sympathetic to Hugo Chavez’s legacy, and his predecessor, Nicolas Maduro, was quick to seize on the comments about the Dakota Access Pipeline, including TeleSur, a channel founded by Chavez himself. While such mediums are disregarded by the opposition, it is worth noting that coverage of Venezuela from foreign media has also been criticized for being selective about the projected image of the government. Venezuela Analysis, a left-leaning English language paper, alleged that news stations falsely characterized recent protests against Maduro as entirely peaceful and ignored counter-protests of citizens who wished to continue with the the current government’s model.
Controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline has steadily gained weight in the news over the last month. Many analysts, including one at the Washington Post, see the protests as a way for environmentalists and native populations to band together to fight against a common enemy — the energy industry.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]