Monday, September 5, 2016

Does It Make any Difference?

This past Saturday a local organization, Earth Guardians, sponsored an event in San Jacinto Plaza: El Paso Stands with Standing Rock. Their press release published on Facebook was a bit disingenuous as it claimed that they and the "community of El Paso" were organizers. I'm not sure who the "community of El Paso" might be. Nevertheless, the event reportedly attracted 67 people, although that number may just be the number of people who said "yes" to the invite. Usually not all rsvps make it. From the looks of some of their videos, I'd say that it was much less.

Standing with Standing Rock makes sense. What I wonder about is whether events such as El Paso Stands with Standing Rock makes any difference. As far as I know there was no local news coverage. The event was attended by the usual suspects. Thankfully the El Paso Times has in the past two days picked up two Associated Press stories: Tribal leader at ND oil pipeline protest: 'Our cause is just' and Pipeline protest in ND turns violent. (The links are to other news sources as EP Times does not have the stories online.) There was no story in the Times about the Placita event. 

Point is this: when you have an organized event announced through Facebook and attended by those you would expect to attend such an event (thank heavens for them) but has no other visibility except on social media and again by the usual suspects, does it have any impact on others?

The situation at Standing Rock is horrendous and yet another example of the mistreatment of Native Americans by the United States and State governments and the preference for large corporations. (A friend once told me that you can have democracy or you can have large corporations. You can't have both.)

The Standing Rock Sioux say that the Army Corps of Engineers has granted permits for the building of the pipeline across their land when it has no authority to do so. Energy Transfer Partners is building the pipeline across North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Bulldozers have not only desecrated sacred burial grounds but the pipeline, which will cross the Missouri River in two places, is clearly a threat to the water. The Sioux Tribe is just downstream from one of the proposed crossings. (Thus Water not Oil.)

Native Americans and others have gathered at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers. Protesters confronted the construction workers and were themselves attacked with mace and vicious dogs that bit six or so people. 

[Go to to view the video. It will not show up in an email.]

The gathering in North Dakota has been going on for several months now with scant media attention. Now it is seeping into main stream media. Lawrence O'Donnel's opinion piece on MSNBC was right on target. This is good. (Please take time to view the video above.)

My question still is how well events such as El Paso Stands with Standing Rock helps that. Perhaps the problem with media attention is relevance. El Pasoans have paid scant attention to the gas pipelines being built from the Permian Basin through Big Bend and, closer to home, San Elizario where the line will go underneath the Rio Grande into Mexico purportedly to serve customers there. In fact, it is being piped to the gulf coast to be shipped and sold overseas.

Again, El Pasoans have paid little attention to the construction of gas pipelines and their media has paid little or no attention to the fracking operations that have begun in Hudspeth County. The Times has done a great job exposing the Texas Railroad Commission's malfeasance when it comes to oil spills during floods in Texas. It has said nothing that I am aware of about Torchlight Energy Resources fracking just east of us. It has said little about San Elizario or the Big Bend for that matter.

I sure would like to see more coverage of events such as the one at San Jacinto Plaza on Saturday. More than that, I'd like to hear more about the underlying issues - in this case, Standing Rock. Finally, the relevance of all of this can be brought home if our media paid more attention to what is going on in Hudspeth County, the Big Bend region and, of course, San Elizario. Gas pipelines explode. Oil lines break and spill. Fracking threatens aquifers. If you want relevance, think water. Water not Oil.


  1. Speaking as one of the usual suspects who attended the event, from 6 pm to 7 pm, I can attest that while there may have been 67 persons in and around the event during that time, some were probably just random passers-by. There was an impressive prayer dance and then some less impressive remarks by well-intended but not well-organized speakers. If there was any kind of program that was not obvious. Some flyers were passed out informing about the broader protest at Standing Rock and giving a website where donations to support it could be made, and a flyer with some basic information about the pipelines nearer home.

    It would indeed be good to read more about the efforts of Native Americans and First Nations to stop the spoiling of their sacred sites and the trashing of the Earth. They are doing their best to care for the planet where we all live, and we ignore them at our peril.

  2. Part Two, if you want to help the Standing Rock protest, here is the site:

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