“Before the coming of oil, we had good fishing, rich estuaries, good costal land, good harvest, unpolluted…and then this thing called oil came.”
Deep Green Resistance Colorado will be hosting a screening and discussion of the film Sweet Crude, which documents the grassroots community resistance to oil extraction in the Niger Delta on Tuesday, May 15th in the basement of the George Reynolds Library (3595 Table Mesa) at 6:00pm.
The Niger Delta is often considered the most polluted place on Earth. For half a century, oil extraction by transnational corporations has gone unregulated. Here, citizens of an oil-rich nation struggle to eat in a land that can no longer support them. The Delta’s water and soil have been fouled by the same oil production that accounts for more than 80 percent of the country’s revenue. Traditional fishing and farming livelihoods are all but gone. Potable drinking water is rare.. Families are broken up, as men die young or take off for the cities to find jobs.
“We don’t know what we’re going to leave our children, because the oil companies want to stay here and operate. They don’t care about the human beings who are here. All they care about is the money they make. Let them leave our lands!”
The film (see the trailer here) traces the local resistance through its different stages, from 25 years of nonviolent struggle to the formation of MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) and militant resistance. Militancy has brought both hope and fear to the region. With more than 50,000 civilians dead at the hands of military police, many feel that armed resistance is the only avenue left to change things.
The message MEND has sent to the oil industry could not be clearer; “It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can or die in it.”
For those of us working against the oppression and destruction of the living world, the struggle in the Niger Delta shows how effective a serious resistance movement can be. It also poses tough questions about what forms of action will be necessary to stop the biocide of industrial civilization, and the lengths the powerful will go to suppress dissent and anyone it perceives as a threat. By carrying out decisive and strategic attacks on key infrastructure, MEND reduced the capacity of oil extraction in the Niger Delta by 40%. A resistance movement that is serious about winning will have to be capable of the same.
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