Justice For Colombia News | on: Thursday, 12 September 2013

TUC Conference Calls for Huber's Release

TUC Conference Calls for Huber's Release

This week the TUC Conference approved an emergency motion on Colombia calling for the immediate release of imprisoned trade union leader, Huber Ballesteros. The emergency motion follows the arrest of Mr Ballesteros, an official guest of this year’s Congress, on August 25 in Bogota on charges of ‘rebellion’. Mr Ballesteros is a member of the Colombian trade union federation’s national executive, vice-president of the FENSUAGRO agricultural workers’ union and a leading figure in the Patriotic March which have been organising the vast wave of strikes and protests that have rocked Colombia in recent weeks.

The TUC motion expressed ‘outrage’ at Mr Ballesteros’ arrest on false charges, and stated that it ‘aims to undermine the industrial action and shows the government continues to criminalise legitimate union activity and social protest.’ The Motion was proposed by the NUT’s Christine Blower who in her speech reminded delegates that Huber was one of another 260 activists who have been detained during the protests, while 458 have been injured, many of them seriously. She also noted the killing of 12 protestors during the three weeks of industrial action. Ms Blower called the situation in Colombia a ‘silenced conflict’, despite over 30,000 disappeared, 7,500 political prisoners and some 3,000 assassinated trade unionists.

At the end of the day’s work the entire hall of delegates posed for a photo holding up placards calling for Mr Ballesteros’ release while overlooked by a projected image of the imprisoned agricultural workers’ leader.

Emergency Motion for TUC 2013

Congress is outraged at the detention of Colombian union leader, Huber Ballesteros on August 25 on false charges of rebellion and financing terrorism, including the channelling of Justice for Colombia funds to FARC. We utterly reject these charges, condemn his imprisonment and call for his immediate release.

Mr Ballesteros is a leading member of the agricultural workers’ union FENSUAGRO, a member of the CUT National Executive, as well as being a leader of the Patriotic March.

Congress notes this arrest comes during a series of industrial actions by unions and others opposing Free Trade Agreements and neoliberal policies. Congress wholeheartedly supports these actions and condemns the widespread repression by police and army, with the killing of 19 year old Juan Camilo Acosta on August 26, FENSUAGRO trade unionist Victor Alfonso Ortega on September 5 and more than 10 others.

Congress believes that Mr Ballesteros’ arrest aims to undermine the industrial action and shows the government continues to criminalise legitimate union activity and social protest.

Congress firmly believes the right to organise is a fundamental part of any democracy. Congress is particularly appalled that the repression takes place during peace talks between the government and FARC guerrillas.

Congress calls on the General Council to

1. Campaign for Mr Ballesteros’ release

2. Support the work of FENSUAGRO, the CUT and the Patriotic March

3. Continue to support JFC politically and financially and encourage unions to affiliate

4. Continue to oppose the EU Colombia Free Trade Agreement

5. Support the JFC peace campaign

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