Saturday, 29 March 2008

Climate Change |Social Change Conference - REGISTER NOW!!

Climate Change |Social Change

A conference to strengthen radical social action to stop climate change

Redfern Community Centre (Fri April 11), and Sydney Girls High School (Fri April 11 evening, Sat and Sun April 12 & 13, near corner Anzac Parade & Cleveland streets, Surry Hills) Sydney

The world is teetering on the brink of unstoppable climate change. Many now recognise the need for serious change in the way we produce and use energy, our transport systems, food production, urban design and forestry practices. Yet politicians are still mouthing platitudes while allowing corporations to continue to profit from polluting our atmosphere and destroying our ecosystem.

The need for social change has become an urgent part of preventing catastrophic climate change. Can the market fix the problem? What is the real record of carbon trading? How can we build a social movement capable of averting this disaster? What models and experiences can offer real solutions?

To strengthen the exchange of ideas and contribute towards that urgent action Green Left Weekly is organising the Climate Change | Social Change conference from April 11-13, 2008, in Sydney.

We are pleased to have confirmed:

Speakers from Australia speakers include:

  • Matt Thistlethwaite — Unions NSW deputy assistant secretary
  • John Kaye — Greens NSW MLC
  • Stephanie Long — Friends of the Earth Australia's international climate justice spokesperson; works on FoE International's climate change campaign
  • Dr Mark Diesendorf — Institute of Environmental Studies, University of NSW
  • Tim Anderson — senior lecturer political economy, Sydney University
  • David Spratt — co-editor, Climate Code Red
  • Marlene Obeid — solidarity activist
  • Dr Jim Green — Friends of the Earth anti-nuclear campaigner
  • Dick Nichols — author of Environment, Capitalism and Socialism
  • Renfrey ClarkeGreen Left Weekly environment correspondent
  • Cam Walker — Friends of the Earth, Melbourne
  • John Rice — Adelaide Ecosocialist Network
  • Adrian Whitehead — Zero Emissions Network
  • Pat Eatock — elder from the Kairie community in central Queensland and secretary of the National Aboriginal Alliance
  • Stuart Rosewarne — co-editor of Journal of Australian Political Economy and Capitalism, Nature, Socialism
  • Donna Jackson — Larrakia/Wulna woman who helped establish the Top End Aboriginal Conservation Alliance
  • James Goodman — researcher on social movements at the University of Technology Sydney writer on Southern responses to global warming

If you would like to register interest in the conference email

To see the agenda (pdf), click here.

To download a registration form (pdf), click here.

To receive updates about the conference, send an email to

Registration costs

3 days/whole conf1 day/session
High school$20$10
Public meeting$6/$4 (included in registration free)

Latest news & background

Rally Against the Building Industry Attack Dog - 4pm April 9

*Rally against Howard's Building Industry Attack Dog - The Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC)*

When: 4pm Wednesday 9 April

Where: 255 Elizabeth St, Sydney, opposite the War Memorial

*Speakers: *

*Peter McClelland, NSW President CFMEU Construction Division *
*Maree O'Halloran, President NSW Teachers' Federation*
*Associate Professor Drew Cottle, UWS*
*Council for Civil Liberties Representative*

*Plus Street theatre *

Since the ABCC was set up in 2006, building industry workers have been under surveillance by a task force of more than 100 police, secretly interrogated, compelled to answer, compelled to keep interrogations secret, all under threats of gaol and fines.

Unions have been fined up to $40,000; officials fined thousands. 91 workers in WA have recently been fined $10,000 each.

Get Rid of the ABCC
Building workers' rights
Worth Fighting for

Friday, 28 March 2008

WorkChoices and Neoliberalism by any other name...

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard donned the dark frocks for a funeral today - the (hopefully) final laying to rest of the Bad Boy of WorkChoices: Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). The Governor-General gave the things their lethal injection la night, and they were put to sleep, and then - on the second anniversary of WorkChoices - they were finally relegated to the dustbin of history.

Well, new ones, that is. There are still apparently upward of 1 million of the little bastards floating around, and many may not end until 2013. Worse yet, the ALP's "Forward With Fairness" policy replacement isn't really so different to WorkChoices itself, leading many unionists and those on the left to call it "WorkChoices Lite" - and with good reason. The wombats are waiting for many a bubble to burst on that front. Hopefully it won't take too long (although it could be helped along in a couple of ways).

The ALP is making no immediately obvious moves to get rid of the ABCC either - the star-chamber empowered secret police for the building industry, which has already been responsible for gross violations of civil liberties, not to mention being a centrepiece in the ongoing attacks on workers' rights in general. It won't be scrapped until 2010. And even if they remove it, they are likely to replace it with something not too dissimilar (if a little cuddlier).

You might be forgiven for thinking that, what with the ALP in power in all states and federally, we might be set for some meaningful changes. Well, maybe there'll be some changes, but it depends what kind of changes you are looking for. And with NSW Labor's heart set on privatising the state's energy supply (soon to be followed by the ferries, the lottery, perhaps the oxygen?) the true stripes of Labor can be seen.

Against around 80 percent public opposition to the sell-off, against their own party platform, and against the rebellion of the unions and over a dozen of the Government's own MPs, Iemma and Costa insist that come hell or high-water (and let's not get started with the idiocy of a desalination plant, and all the back-room deals involved in that one) they will follow through with the sell-off.

Fortunately, we have a new federal Labor government, which can remind the state government what the "party of labour" should be all about. Right? Well, apparently not. Rudd has also come out in support of Iemma and Co, which must feel relieved to get some kind of support after all the sex-scandals and exposure of dodgy developer deals in Wollongong, and pedophile ministers, and collapsible tunnels, and so on and so forth, which have plagued Premier Iemma since he was handed the poisoned chalice by Bob Carr as the latter trundled off to his retirement job of running NSW from Macquarie Bank proper (instead of just its political wing - the NSW ALP).

So ok. Maybe Rudd isn't the white knight some might have hoped for (even if he is going to inject money into the Murray). But Labor got in on the back of a genuine tidal wave of support, not a small part of which was around the opposition to WorkChoices, organised by the ACTU and others in the form of the "Your Rights At Work" campaign. So surely the hero of the labour movement, the real "people's champion" of the election - former ACTU Secretary Greg Combet - can be relied upon to see what's right and what's not, and stick up for the people, for common sense and for the planet (given the likely need for government control of energy production in order to prevent runaway Climate Change).

Ummm. No, actually. As even Bob Gould points out, Combet has counted his cards, and is relying - along with the rest of the Labor Left - upon a friendly deal from Poker-face Rudd to land the right bums on seats in cabinet. So, not a lot has changed in the "bump-me-into-parliament" world of the ALP's stranglehold on the unions and labour bureacracy. And not even the fact that his own electorate will be hard-hit by the sell-off can make him budge. "Angry voters" about as non-metaphysical as it gets for politicians, yet even that apparently wasn't enough of a carrot.

The shining light - if it can be called that - is the staunch opposition of the Unions NSW leadership to the coming privatisation, to the point of taking it to the floor of the NSW ALP state conference in early May, where they are planning to win. What is less clear, however, is what they plan to do if they win on the conference floor, and Costa then goes ahead with the sale. Gould has been railing of late against the demons he sees lurking in every left-wing critique of the ALP of calls for the expulsion of Iemma and Costa from the ALP.

Now, the wombats have no illusion that that will happen, but
we wonder, then, what will happen when (if?) the vote goes against the government, and they still go ahead. It certainly challenges the logic of those (such as Gould, who certainly sees this fight as important, vital even, in the fight for the ALP) on the left in the ALP - and who see it as a vehicle for socialists - if even when the party conference, the party platform, AND the unions are on your side, you can't make the bastards budge.

Over a hundred years ago, the Australian Socialist League (ASL), and other socialists, put their hopes in elected representatives of the labour movement to bring about socialism in short order. Time and again they were disappointed by their elected Labor MPs, who took any and every opportunity to sell out - fast. Against all reason, however, they maintained a faith that it was a matter of individuals, not of the larger socialist strategy of the day, that was at fault, and that if only the "right people" were elected, all would be fine. And it got worse once the ALP-proper was set up.

Little appears to have changed in the interim, and socialists in Australia are faced with an unpleasant choice of working within the ALP - the perceived "real party of labour" - and having your efforts marginalised and your representatives bought off, or working outside Labor, in a party or a manner that doesn't mean apologism for neoliberal governments, but with the popular, and well-funded, monolith of the ALP to contend with.

And for those of us outside Labor - in the Socialist Alliance, in other socialist groups, in the Greens, the unions and elsewhere - we are faced with the equally daunting task. The task of overcoming a neoliberal ALP's hegemony over the Australian working class, of acheiving the kind of political and organisational unity necessary to
create a viable alternative political vehicle of the working class in Australia. A vehicle which will be capable of bringing about something which has seldom - in the century since the ASL, SDF, ASB, VSP and other early socialists thought it so inevitable - seemed so far away as it does today: "socialism in our time".

This challenge is one which requires us all to rise above sectarianism and personal spite, and honestly appraise the situations before us when searching for answers - the right-wing nature of the new federal ALP government, the very real success of the Your Rights At Work campaign (and the expectations this has sown in many people), the limited but still tangible success of the Socialist Alliance,
and the rise and rise (and worrying contradictions) of the Greens coupled with the importance and surging vitality of the struggle to prevent runaway climate change.

One good place for us all to start would be the Climate Change | Social Change Conference in Sydney on April 11-13, which will feature many of the key players in the various struggles mentioned above - both from Australia and from around the world. But the question of revolutionary strategy, of how to go beyond the limitations of the current juncture, is an ongong one. It is one which the Socialist Alliance was formed to help answer, but we certainly can't (and certainly don't intend to) answer it alone. We need your assistance in that, dear reader.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

UNITYblognz - "History calls for a Broad Left party"

The folks over at UNITYblognz (otherwise known as New Zealand Socialist Worker) have hit upon a fact that apparently continues to allude so much of the left - both in Oz and abroad - namely that we need a broad left party. Simply dawdling along in the same-old "we've got the correct program so stuff you" manner that altogether too many far-left outfits use to maintain ideological (as well as numerical - if small = pure) purity is doing nobody any particular good. Except maybe the capitalists.

NZSW are a funny creature anway. While a part of the International Socialist Tendency, they have been engaged in an ongoing tit-for-tat with the IST mothership in the UK over a number of things - Venezuela, RESPECT, and the general question of broader left strategy. Suffice to say that London hasn't been happy, especially as they characterise the RESPECT coalition, and the SWP's approach to it as a
broad-narrow coalition "where a Marxist group forms an alliance with other groups and individuals on the left in a bid to "take control" behind the scenes. "

As with much of their output, this is a valuable and well-written contribution to the question of revolutionary strategy in the 21st Century (not to be confused with the rather shallow and crude attempt at sectarian one-upmanship displayed in the first para of this post from the Socialist Party here in Oz. It reads unfortunately like they meant to attack the rest of the left, then got distracted. Force of habit?).

Read, enjoy, and then let's go do something about it...

SPECIAL FEATURE- History calls for a Broad Left party


In 2006, the neo-liberal maniacs at the World Bank ranked New Zealand as No.1 in the world for doing business, out of 200 countries surveyed. And a recent government report titled "Wealth Disparities in New Zealand" showed that 95% of New Zealand's net wealth is owned by half the population. The other half is left with the crumbs - a mere 5% of the country's wealth. Two decades of neo-liberal polices have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, increasing the rage, frustration and alienation at the base of New Zealand society.

In recent years Socialist Worker-New Zealand (SW-NZ) has recognised that these discontents are being combined with signs of self-activity amongst grassroots people, which is causing them to be more open to alternative political ideas. The rise of a global social justice movement has been influential. There have been bursts of union militancy, along with mass movements against imperial wars, GE foods and government injustices against Maori. In combination this points towards a political stirring at the grassroots of New Zealand society which socialists must relate to.

It's a basic principle of Marxism that the movement of masses of people is needed to change society. The question for socialists, then, is what can we do today to help turn growing dissatisfactions at the grassroots into something far more politically coherent, organised and confident? In seeking to advance the movement we need to recognise and analyse the barriers in the way of greater working class self-activity.

Read the rest at UNITYblog

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

US/Colombia hands off Venezuela and Ecuador!

Act now to stop war in Latin America

What only a few days ago seemed like a remote prospect has suddenly become a real possibility. The Colombian military’s brutal massacre of 21 (at last count) guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – Peoples Army (FARC-EP), including Raul Reyes, the FARC’s chief negotiator and spokesperson, in Ecuador on March 1 marks a dramatic leap in the United States’ plan to potentially trigger off an armed confrontation between Colombia and Venezuela.

These events should be of major concern for all supporters of the Venezuelan revolution, and anti-war and peace activists the world over.

On March 1, in violation of all international treaties regarding defence of national sovereignty, the Colombian government of President Alvaro Uribe bombed Ecuadorian territory to assassinate of Reyes and the other FARC guerrillas. The governments of Ecuador and Venezuela responded by mobilising troops to their respective borders with Colombia, stating their willingness to defend their national sovereignty at all costs. Both countries broke diplomatic ties with the Colombian regime and announced that they would seek an international condemnation of its action.

The Colombian government has attempted to justify its actions as part of the fight against “terrorism”. But this is just the latest in a string of lies the Colombian government made in order to keep face. Its first lie was claiming that it never violated Ecuadorian sovereignty. Then the lie that its actions were a response to FARC attacks was exposed as images emerged of the murdered guerrillas in their pyjamas.

Following these unjustifiable actions and, subsequently, a weak “apology” to Ecuador, the Colombian government has tried to claim the existence of documents, obtained from three laptops that “miraculously” survived the bombing, that link Ecuador and Venezuela to the “terrorism” of the FARC. Both Ecuador and Venezuela have denounced the claims as “absolute lies.”

Judging by the quality of the claims made in these documents, (in which the FARC seem to have discussed highly sensitive information without using any form of code), it appears that what were found were the same laptops that provided the “information” about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

All this is a smokescreen for the real aim - part of a plan drawn up in Washington and being enacted by its puppets in Colombia. The Colombian government has revealed that it had the coordinates of Reyes’ whereabouts for several weeks, including while he was in Colombian territory, yet it chose to act while he was in Ecuador. Moreover, the bombing was carried out only days after Venezuela, with Ecuador’s support, led a successful international mission to receive the unilateral handover of four FARC prisoners, the success of which gave hope to many that peaceful solution to the conflict in Colombia was possible.

Despite the brutal attack on them, the FARC guerrillas have declared their willingness to continue with the process of releasing prisoners as part of trying to reach a political solution.

The longer term aim of the Colombian government’s most recent attack is to establish a precedent for violating the sovereignty of other countries so it can carry out military actions outside its borders as part of its supposed war on “terrorism”. In other words, it wants to establish itself as the Israel of Latin America, with support from Washington to carry out further such actions.

More immediately, the Colombian regime, which receives more US military funding than any other country in the region, is attempting to end the humanitarian accord being promoted by the FARC and to provoke a conflict with Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, has played a central role in efforts to achieve peace in Colombia. Colombia has suffered from six decades of brutal state-sponsored terrorism, including from infamous right-wing death squads linked to the military. Hundreds of trade unionists and other activists are assassinated in Colombia each year. A humanitarian accord would force Colombia’s elite to dismantle this terror apparatus.

Washington too fears a political solution to Colombia’s internal war which provides a pretext for the militarisation of the region through Plan Colombia and now Plan Patriot. Any moves towards peace put into question the role of the US, which has pushed a policy of violence and conflict that, after decades, has achieved worse than nothing.

Frightened by the powerful alternative provided by the pro-people, pro-peace policies of the revolutionary government of Venezuela – an alternative that is inspiring millions of people around the world and strengthening Latin American integration - the US and Colombian regimes are escalating their policy of war to try to derail Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. Alongside their military provocation, their lies about Venezuela being a “gateway for narco-trafficking” and involved in “aiding terrorism” are aimed at justifying any attack on Venezuela as a “necessary” part of the US’s so-called war on terror.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) joins with the overwhelming majority Latin American governments in condemning Colombia’s actions. We support the actions taken by Venezuela and Ecuador to defend their national sovereignty. We applaud their dignified stance in breaking relations with Colombia, and demand that the Australian government do the same.

Without peace and justice in Colombia, there can be no peace for revolutionary Venezuela. That is why the AVSN is actively supporting the March 6 international day of action called by the families of victims of state and paramilitary violence in Colombia, and urges all people who support a peaceful, political solution to the Colombian conflict and Venezuela’s right to self-determination to join us.

US, Colombia hands off Venezuela and Latin America!

A statement from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

March 5, 2008

Communiqué from the Central Secretariat of the General Staff of the FARC-EP

The Wombats have just got hold of the FARC-EP's communiqué in response to the death of Raul Reyes. Amongst other things, it notes the identity of Reyes'successor, Joaquin Gomez (pictured, right, with Reyes in 1999).

For any readers interested in a deeper view of what the FARC-EP are about politically, rather than relying solely upon corporate media and its distorted drivel, there is a very recent interview with the FARC-EP's international spokesman Rodgrigo Granda, and an interview with Reyes himself, from the middle of last year.

Since our last post, both Venezuela and Ecuador have withdrawn their ambassadors, and expelled the Colombian ambassadors (Venezuela has expelled the entire embassy), and have sent troops to the border. Venezuela's president Chavez has said that if Uribe tries this kind of stunt in Venezuela it will be war. Correa too, has threatened to pursue this to the "ultimate consequences" and have issued a statement of protest.

Both Correa and Chavez have called Uribe - who has longstanding links with the drug-trafficking paramilitaries - a liar and a mafioso, and Chavez compared the role of Colombia in the region to that of Israel, in the Midle East (an apt comparison, in far too many ways to take up here, although Vietnam is another, very pertinent, option).

In response, the Colombian government, through the Chief of Police (whose brother is apparently a convicted drug trafficker) has claimed to have found 3 laptops with the guerrillas, and has claimed to have found evidence of Venezuela paying the FARC-EP US$300 million, and accused Ecuador's Interior Minister, Gustavo Larrea, of having met with Reyes. Never mind that the money (if it existed) may have been used to free the recently released hostages, and that Larrea has admitted to having met with Reyes, in a third country to negotiate hostage releases. As has the French government, of course, but their not being taken to the Hague...

Probably sensing that these claims would soon be seen as specious, Colombia has now claimed that Venezuela was helping the FARC-EP get 50kg of uranium (an accusation which is a sure sign of political desperation, and outrageous dihonesty, on Colombia's part), and now wants to take Venezuela to the Hague on charges of "Genocide".

The rich hypocrisy of Uribe, who is the narco-presidential son of a wanted drug trafficker; grew up with the children of drug king-pin Fabio Ochoa; was a former good mate of drug baron Pablo Escobar; and was an architect of the blood-soaked paramilitary group the Convivirs (when he was Governor of Antioquia state) trying to take Chavez - of all people - to the Hague on such charges really underscores the desperation of the Colombian oligarchy and their US puppet-masters. There is, however, the danger that some of these lies could rub off into popular consciousness, so the left, as a whole, needs to be equipped with the facts of the matter, and to join in the international protests on March 6 for peace and justice in Colombia.

communiqué follows below:

Communiqué from the Central Secretariat of the General Staff of the FARC-EP

March 4, 2008


1. We informed the Colombian people and international opinion, that Comandante Raul Reyes, has been killed. He was a comprehensive and exemplary revolutionary, who gave his entire life to the cause of the exploited, for national liberation and for the Great Fatherland that Bolivar dreamed of. We pay our respects to him and to the other 15 guerrillas killed at his side.

2. The Comandante fell fulfilling the mission of acheiving, through President Chavez, an interview with president Sarkozy, in order to progress in finding solutions to the situation of Ingrid Betancur and the goal of humanitarian exchange.

3. The treachery of the attack, the viciousness and cynicism of the liar Alvaro Uribe in distorting the circumstances of the death of Comandante Raul, not only dangerously intensifies the relations of this government with its sister republics, but is a grave blow to the chances of Humanitarian Exchange and annuls the political solution to the conflict with this paramilitarised and pro-Yankee regime.

4. To Presidents Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Sarkozy, Rafael Correa, Daniel Ortega, Cristina Fernandez, Evo Morales and all Governments who are friends of peace, to the families of the prisoners, and to the overwhelming majority that supported the Humanitarian Exchange, we encourage you to continue fighting for the clearing of Florida and Pradera.

5. The cause of peace based on social justice, for which the commander Raul Reyes gave his life, still waves from atop the mountains of Colombia, from the Bolivarian Platform, the Strategic Plan for the FARC, and the unfailing determination of the guerrillas and people to fight throughout the country. Raul will always be remembered with deep affection, especially for contributing his revolutionary steadfastness, his perseverance, his persistence and effectiveness to publicise to the international community the reality of the FARC as a Revolutionary Army, and his fortitude to energise the strategy of Bolivarian Continental unity .

6. We report that Comandante Joaquin Gomez as of this date becomes a full member of the Secretariat of the Central General Staff.

Eternal Honour and Glory to Comandante Raul Reyes.

For the New Colombia, the Patria Grande and Socialism: Not one step backwards!

Secretariat of the Central General Staff of the FARC-EP

Mountains of Colombia, March 2, 2008.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

FARC leader Raul Reyes assassinated by Colombia in Ecuador

The Wombats have also just come across this piece of worrying breaking news. It's a problem, not only because of what was done, but the way it was done. Venezuela's president Chavez, who has already suffered incursions by Colombian forces during his term in office, has threatened that he will regard any such move against Venezuela by the neighbouring country at this point as an act of war.

What's worse is that, as part of the moves brokered by Chavez for the FARC-EP to release some of their hostages/ POWs, Raul Reyes has been the chief negotiator on the FARC-EP side. The FARC -EP has now unilaterally released 6 hostages, as gestures of good will and its willingness to negotiate. The same good will cannot be ascribed to the Colombian state, and president Uribe.

Like so many times before, the Colombian state is speaking out its arse about peace, while it goes on murdering trade union leaders, farmers, workers, peasants, students, and so on, and propping up the right-wing drug-funded paramilitaries.
Similarly to Chavez, Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has lodged an official complaint with Colombia for their incursion into Ecuadorian territory. His approach is not too different to Chavez's, as reported in the El Tiempo article, reproduced below via Ecuador-Rising. If perhaps less direct, it is more thorough in its rhetoric.

The FARC-EP response is still pending, as their website has been down for some time, for reasons we are unclear about.

Actions are being planned for March 6 in protest against the Colombian state for the breaches of human rights it commits daily against its own people. This adds one more crime to the list.

Raul Reyes presente!
Viva la
Nueva Colombia!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ecuador recalls ambassador to Colombia for consultations after death of "Reyes" in the country

Via El Tiempo, 2 March, 2008

The move was announced by President Rafael Correa, who warned that he will risk "the ultimate consequences in order to clarify this outrageous act that is an attack on our territory".

He added that "The president (Alvaro Uribe) or was either misinformed, or he blatantly lied to the president of Ecuador (...). We are lodging a strong note of protest".

He also said: "If we can find no conclusive evidence or explanations showing that President Uribe was misled or that evidence is clear for all the world to see that he has once again lied to the Ecuadorian government and that he has no scruples regarding our territory ... I repeat: we will risk the ultimate consequences, but we will not allow even one more outrage.''

The Colombian authorities claimed that the camp where "Reyes" was was located 1.8 kilometres on the Ecuadorian side of the border.

For these reasons, Correa recalled his ambassador in Colombia, Francisco Suéscum Ottati .

"They were massacred as they slept"

Correa explained that according to the Ecuadorian army, they found, at the scene of battle (near the town of Angostura, 250 kilometres northeast of Quito and 130 kilometres from the border with Peru) that ''there was no sign of pursuit.''

The guerrillas were "bombed and massacred as they slept, using advanced technology (...) probably with the
collaboration of foreign powers'", said Correa.

He also said that a military patrol that went to the area found 15 of the guerrilla's corpses, and 2 wounded guerrillas in a makeshift camp ... in Ecuadorian territory (...) and that the corpses were wearing pyjamas''.

According to the Ecuadorian head of state, it was a "temporary camp of the Colombian guerrillas (...) Colombia clearly invaded Ecuadorian airspace (...) and then came to take the body of "Raul Reyes"' ".

The President described the incident as "a real blow to the civilised relationship that fraternal countries sharing a border should have".

"Bombing the most serious attack on the sovereignty of Ecuador this century"

"The bombing the most serious attack on the sovereignty of Ecuador this century" according to Ecuador's Security Minister, Gustavo Larrea.

According to Larrea, "there is a history of an armed incursion by one state (Colombia) against the other sovereign state (Ecuador) with no respect for any international procedure, just such as has happened this morning (Saturday)," he added.

Following the statements by Correa, the defense minister of Ecuador, Wellington Sandoval, added that the military forces of Ecuador are "on alert" on the border with Colombia and "ready to repel any external aggression."

He assured that the Ecuadorian military played no role in the attacks.

''This is an area of very thick jungle and of course our troops were not present there. It is impossible to have troops along the entire border,''he said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia said that tonight there would be a response by the minister of Foreign Relations, Fernando Araujo.

The Ecuadorian border was closed on "Reyes"

Highflying aircraft bombed their camp. His death is the biggest blow struck to the FARC in 44 years of armed conflict.

The most significant blow to the FARC had received throughout its history, the killing of "Raul Reyes" yesterday on the border with Ecuador, followed several events this week.

On Wednesday, police intelligence returned to "listening in" to some communications, which had reappeared after two months of silence.

That signal complemented valuable information obtained by the Dijín in another operation on Monday when another blow was struck against the FARC: the capture of "Martín Sombra", one of the 'historic guerrillas' at Saboyá (Boyacá).

In addition, this week the network responsible for the security of "Reyes" was thwarted in the border area. In Piñuña Black, jurisdiction of Puerto Leguizamo (Putumayo), several of them were arrested .

Among them was alias "Martha", the sister of Rubin Castaneda, the head of the Front.

That was the group responsible for ensuring, with payment, the tranquil movement of "Raul Reyes" around the border.

These captures were key in verifying reports on the presence of the guerrilla chief in several FARC camps that were distributed on both sides of the border and also forced him to move, because he had not received the money sent him every week by secretariat.

Data from human sources, alongside intelligence techniques, enabled tracing of the increasingly sporadic communications of "Reyes", and air power decided the fate of the first member of the FARC secretariat to die in a military action of the Colombian State.

In the words of an official source, data on the movements of '"Reyes" were so accurate that they were only waiting for "his nose to stick out" to start the operation. And that happened after midnight on Friday.

Yesterday, when he announced to the country that the troops were the bodies of "Reyes" and "Julián Conrado" (a very popular commander in the FARC because he was one of the guerrillas' singers) Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos confirmed information which has caused ongoing friction with Quito: that there are subversive camps in Ecuadorian territory.

According to minister Santos, the Government learned that "Reyes" had come to a camp of the 48th Front in the site of Grenada last night.

At 12:25 am yesterday, several Air Force planes left bases in the south of the country with a clearly defined goal.

The planes flew only at 2 thousand feet high. Cluster bombs were used on the targets defined by the intelligence.

At the same time, several battalions entered the area by helicopter, but were met with heavy fire coming from across the border. These bullets killed the professional soldier Carlos Hernandez Leon.

This second camp was 1,800 meters inside the Ecuadorian territory, in a place known as Santa Rosa. The aircraft fire was then directed there, but the minister said that the river Putumayo was not crossed. The aim? "Powerfully responding fire and neutralising the enemy."

It was, to quote a high source, a "surgical operation" with the participation of all security agencies.

A joint command of the Police and Navy crossed the border. Some stayed to maintain control of the site until they had contacted representatives of the Ecuadorian authorities, who were immediately informed of the facts.

What the troops found was reported immediately to Bogota, where every detail was described to the millimetre: they found the bodies of 17 guerrillas, including two of the most wanted: Édgar Luis Devia, the man who in the world of war was known as "Raul Reyes", and Guillermo Enrique Torres, "Julian Conrado", of the FARC.

According to a high source who participated in the successful operation, "Reyes" had a Rolex watch and the state of his body allowed its immediate identification.

The body's 1.55 metres in height and the scars on his forehead and left index finger match. He also had a tattoo. He wore a T-shirt with the face of Manuel Marulanda, as shown in the photos first revealed yesterday in the afternoon by

Intelligence sources ensured that a young guerrilla who had become his partner in recent months also died.

The death of "Conrado" is also very symbolic. He had been in the thematic committees during negotiations at Caguan and was now the ideologist of the 48th Front. He was the director of the Voice of the Resistance, the FARC's network of clandestine stations, and the Government of the EU had also placed a price on his head: $ 2.5 million.

$ 5 million was offered for "Reyes", and it was assessed yesterday whether that money would be handed over to sources in the border area, who allowed the authorities to strike the historic coup, which joins others such as bombings against "Acacio Negro" and "Martín Caballero".

25 arrest warrants have been issued, and several convictions were pending against "Raul Reyes". He was one of the masterminds of the strategy to kidnap politicians to pressure the so-called humanitarian exchange.

2 thousand feet was the height at which armed aircraft of the Air Force bombed the camp where the chief guerrilla "Raul Reyes" and his men were.

Evidence of the importance of Ecuador to the FARC

In fact, two of the harshest blows to the guerrillas in recent years have occurred south of the border.

On January 2, 2004, in an operation which was supported by the Ecuadorian authorities, Ricardo Ovidio Palmera Pineda, known as' Simon Trinidad ', was captured - one of the 22 members of the so-called general staff of the FARC.

His capture occurred in the touristy Amazonas Avenue in the Ecuadorian capital.

Like other guerrilla leaders, "Trinidad" had legal documents issued in that country. They were in the name of Cristo Rey Mariscal Peralta.

According to intelligence reports of the police and the Colombian Army, "Simon Trinidad" sought refuge there often, and was even receiving medical treatment.

But "Trinidad", catalogued as a big fish of the FARC, was not the only one who crossed the boundary line, about 600 kilometres long, often.

Intelligence agencies in Colombia have also discovered information to the effect that Ecuador is the meeting point between leaders of the guerrillas and their families.

"Rodrigo Granda" was supposed to be there when he was captured in Venezuela in 2004. The guerrilla, who was released by the government Uribe last year, depended directly on "Reyes" and moved easily between Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador.

Furthermore, we know that the other side of the border contacts are made for purchase of armament and kitchenware. Information to this effect was given this week by Luis Eladio Perez, the nariño leader released last Wednesday after more than six years of captivity.

He recounted how the rubber boots used by the FARC units operating in the south are made in Ecuador. "I slept in camps in that country," said Perez.

Drawing on a border marked by jungle and rivers, all illegal groups are believed to move through the area. The Farc have used it to traffick large quantities of drugs through the region for years.

The Armed Forces have also alleged that several operations against the FARC fronts, especially the 48th, have ended with the passage of the guerrillas into the neighbouring territory, where they have camps and guard coca crops.

For its part, the Ecuadorian authorities also complain about the presence of guerrillas in the area and the alleged lack of control by the Colombian authorities.

This has caused diplomatic friction between the leaders of the two countries.

Villagers have also complained of damage caused during the fighting.

However, in this latest blow, the authorities and governments seem to be coordinated. Moreover, it comes at a time of relatively calm in the relations between Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, and Alvaro Uribe Velez.

Even the international conflict, because of the fumigation of illicit crops by Colombia, affecting farmers in Ecuador, is virtually frozen.

With EFE and AP

Divers strike at the NSW Government's desalination plant

The Wombats just received this, via Warren Smith at the MUA:

Dear Comrade,

The Divers at the NSW Government's desalination plant project have decided to go on strike in protest of the fact that they are the only workers on this site that are not covered by a union collective agreement. To make matters worse the MUA delegate on site was just recently sacked after raising safety concerns.

The employer Dive Construction Services (aka Dempsey Industries) have refused to negotiate with the MUA for a collective agreement. This company insists on utilising WorkChoices even after the Australian people have overwhelmingly rejected this anti-worker set of IR laws.

Divers on site have determined that they must take a stand to stop the continued erosion of diving wages and conditions. Diving is an extremely dangerous occupation and the rates of pay and conditions for this work (particularly at the desalination plant) are completely out of step with community standards for work of this nature.

The Divers have established a picket line at the desalination plant site at Port Botany.

It can be found on Friendship Rd. Port Botany at the Molineux Point end. Look for the flags.

The picket will begin at around 7am Monday March 3rd.

See the attached file which is a graphic demonstrating the location of the picket line.

Your assistance in supporting the divers is greatly appreciated.

We will send out more information as this struggle progresses.

In Unity

Warren Smith

Branch Secretary
MUA Sydney