In brief

January 19, 2005

GERMANY: New left party to be launched

In a ballot conducted in the now 6000-strong Electoral Alternative Work and Social Justice in December, an overwhelming 96% voted to formally launch a new left party at an extraordinary congress on January 22. The EAWSJ will stand in the elections in May in Germany's largest state, North-Rhine-Westphalia. The big challenge will be the federal election in 2006, in which Germany's increasingly neoliberal "red-green" government will struggle to keep this new left-wing formation of disillusioned defectors under the 5% of the vote it needs to get parliamentary representation. It will also face fierce competition from the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which currently polls around 6%. In an interview with Green Left Weekly in GLW#595, EAWSJ leader Axel Troost flagged the possibility of an electoral alliance with the PDS to maximise the left vote.

ISRAEL: Jewish activist faces deportation

Jewish lesbian activist Kate Raphel-Bender, an activist with the International Women's Peace Service (IWPS), was arrested on December 14 in the village of Bi'lin, along with Kelly Minio-Paluello, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The two activists, who had been filming the brutal beating of a Palestinian teenager by Israeli security forces, were detained in Hadera Immigration Centre before being moved to Tsochar Prison. Minio-Paluello was deported on December 24, however, a December 28 court decision enabled Raphel-Bender to challenge Israel's deportation orders. Raphel-Bender's appeal will be heard on January 16. She will be represent herself and will argue that it is illegal for the Israeli government to prevent her from helping to implement the decision of the world's highest legal body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

VENEZUELA: Ties with Colombia suspended

In a statement on January 12, Colombia's defence minister Jorge Alberto Uribe confirmed media rumours that the head of foreign relations for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Ricardo Granda, was kidnapped by government-funded bounty hunters on December 13 in Caracas, not inside Colombia as it had originally claimed. Granda had been attending the second Congress of Bolivian Peoples being held in Caracas, which brought together left-wing forces from across the continent. The Venezuelan government denies knowledge of Granda's presence at the congress.The announcement was condemned by the Venezuelan government which has recalled its ambassador to Colombia, labelling the kidnapping a serious violation of sovereignty. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced the suspension of all commercial ties with Colombia and insists the suspension of ties will continue until Colombia apologises.

From Green Left Weekly, January 19, 2005.
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