At the recent Globalise Resistance conference in London one of the packed workshops was about what is happening in the South American country of Colombia. The discussion was introduced by JONATHAN NEALE, author of a book on the US war in Vietnam. He spoke of how the Colombian and US governments were pushing their Plan Colombia. The plan involves billions of dollars and US military "aid" to Colombia.
Workers and bosses in France were set for a major trial of strength on Thursday. All the country's major union federations have called for strikes and demonstrations against a "frontal assault" on workers' pension rights. It comes as the social and political temperature in France is rising. Strikes and demonstrations have been multiplying in recent weeks. Now the Les Echos business paper worries that bosses are playing "a dangerous game". Thursday's action centres around a provocative move by the Medef employers' organisation.
Tens of thousands of people protested against the inauguration of US president George W Bush last weekend. They took to the streets in Washington, Florida and Seattle to show they are opposed to how Bush and the Republicans stole last November's election.
Mass demonstrations forced the resignation of the president of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, on Friday of last week. Over 200,000 people took to the streets of the capital, Manila, for several days last week after court proceedings against Estrada over corruption effectively collapsed.
Bill Clinton was attempting to secure a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as Socialist Worker went to press. But many Palestinians are suspicious of a deal.
Lawyers, doctors and human rights activists in Turkey are cataloguing hundreds of reports of torture and assaults on left wing political prisoners-despite state censorship.
Around 100,000 Czechs demonstrated in Prague's Wenceslas Square last week in support of striking journalists at the state-owned television station. The journalists have been occupying the studios of the station since Christmas Eve in protest at the appointment of Jiri Hodac as the new director general. A parliamentary committee appointed Hodac, who is close to the pro-business leader of the opposition, Vaclav Klaus, who wants to privatise state television. Hodac has already sacked key managers in his attempt to control the content of news broadcasts.
WHILE BILL Clinton, the outgoing US president, attempted to broker a new peace deal between Israel and Palestine over Christmas and the new year, Israeli troops continued their brutal murder of Palestinians.
YOUNG WORKERS at McDonald's in France have shown how to take on the fast food multinational and win. McDonald's workers struck and occupied the Boulevard St German outlet in the centre of Paris just before Christmas. Their 15-day occupation won huge support.
TURKEY: The Turkish state murdered 30 left wing political prisoners in a military assault on 20 prisons just before Christmas. The massacre was so savage that it brought condemnation even from European governments that are keen on Turkey joining the European Union. The roll call of the dead and how they died is harrowing:
AUSTRIA'S FAR right Freedom Party was close to entering government as Socialist Worker went to press. It was in talks with the Tory People's Party over forming a coalition government. The prospect of a far right party holding ministerial office in Europe for the first time since 1945 should sound alarm bells. Jörg Haider's Freedom Party is viciously anti - immigrant. It claimed during last autumn's general election campaign that Austria suffered from "Überfremdung" (foreign infiltration). Hitler's Nazis put this word at the centre of their propaganda in the early 1930s. By inviting Haider's party into government, the Austrian Tories have given respectability to open racist scapego
FRANCE SHOWS another face of Europe, how workers can take on bosses and governments, marginalising the far right and the Nazis. Over 10,000 health workers united to march in Paris on Friday of last week. Thousands joined similar protests in other cities around the country. They were demanding increased funding and more staff. More protests were planned this week. Four years ago the Tory government attacked France's welfare provision, including health. This was beaten back, and strikes and protests ensured a left wing coalition government was swept to power.
STRIKES AND protests are erupting across France in the run up to Christmas. The implementation of the new 35 hour week law lies behind many of the disputes. Workers are demanding that bosses pay for the hours cut.
TONY BLAIR'S key ally in Europe had to turn away from New Labour's policy of letting the free market rip through the economy last week. Pressure from workers and trade unions forced German leader Gerhard Schröder to stump up £80 million of government money to save 28,000 jobs.
NEW ZEALAND'S Tories were booted out of office at the weekend as voters rejected 15 years of free market madness. In 1984 the country's Labour government let the market rip. It sold off public services, passed vicious anti-union laws and doled out tax cuts to the rich. The nine year National (Tory) government that followed carried on in Labour's footsteps. The gap between rich and poor increased more in New Zealand than in any other Western country. Today one in ten households are forced to ask for food handouts.
AN APPEAL court in Turkey upheld the death sentence on Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan last week. The five judges said Ocalan's original trial had been "conducted in accordance with legal procedures".
POLICE DRENCHED the centre of the Greek capital, Athens, with teargas to disperse mass demonstrations against US president Bill Clinton on Friday of last week. Over 30,000 people battled to get near government buildings and the US embassy. They chanted anti-NATO slogans and denounced Clinton as the "Butcher of the Balkans" for ordering the bombing of Yugoslavia earlier this year.
SOME 9,000 protesters demonstrated outside the US Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, last Saturday. The school has been used by the US military to train brutal right wing death squads.
A RASH of strikes swept France last week, hitting national TV and radio stations as well as public transport in the country's three biggest cities. Car workers and postal workers also took action. The strikes come against the background of a continuing political radicalisation in France.
"The financial crisis in December 1998 led to the intervention of the International Monetary Fund. They insisted on more privatisation and on letting ailing businesses close. That led to soaring unemployment in a country which, although fully industrialised, has scarcely any welfare provision."