Exijo Libertad por el Dirigente Sindical Huber Ballesteros
Hubert "Huber" Ballesteros is a member of the Executive Council of the United Workers Center (CUT), Colombia's largest labor federation, and is Vice President of Fensuagro, the country's largest union of agricultural workers. He is one of ten representatives from the Council of Dialogue and Agreement (Mesa de Interlocución y Acuerdo) negotiating with the government regarding the national strike currently underway. He is also a friend of the Alliance for Global Justice, having helped organize past delegations for us, and we have witnessed the leading role he has played in popular movements for labor rights and peace.
While solidarity with all imprisoned and threatened labor unionists in Colombia is a priority, we cannot emphasize strongly enough how serious a blow Hubert's arrest has been, given the role he has played in Colombia's labor movement and in advocacy for the participation of social movements in the peace process. Hubert was one of the popular movement representatives who went to Havana to call for broad inclusion in peace negotiations, emphasizing that dialogue should not be just between the insurgents and the government. He mainly has been active doing fieldwork for Fensuagro and the Marcha Patriótica (Colombia's leading Left mobilization for peace) in the countrysides, and thus has been a vital link in communications among rural unionists and peace advocates. At this crucial time in Colombia's history, what is needed is that people like Hubert Ballesteros be listened to, not locked away in jail. And in regards to US activity in Colombia, after $8 billion of Plan Colombia and the signing of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, what we see is not improved attention to labor and human rights and the integrity of peasant farm-holdings, but more threats, more attacks and more unjustified jailings of political activists--and Colombia already has the largest population of political prisoners in the Americas.
Following is a translation of the Spanish letter we are asking people to send to the authorities:
I am communicating with you to demand the immediate liberty of Mr. Hubert "Huber" Ballesteros, who was unjustly arrested on August 26, 2013, in the city of Bogotá. The detention of Mr. Ballesteros is a grave blow to Colombia's peace process and to human and labor rights. Mr. Ballesteros is a member of the Executive Committe of the United Workers Center, the country's largest labor federation, and the Vice President of Fensuagro, the largest union of agricultural workers and small farmers. In addition, Mr. Ballesteros is one of the main negotiators from the Council of Dialogue and Agreement, who are advocating with the government on behalf of workers and peasants during this time of the national strike. Mr. Ballesteros was accused of "Aggravated Rebellion", based on false accusations and the "magic computers" of Raúl Reyes--evidence already discredited by the Constitutional Court of Colombia. The incarceration of Mr. Ballesteros constitutes an attack not only against the peace process but also against the participation and the demands of the popular movement and unions that are looking to create a Colombia built with peace and justice.