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article imageCampaign launched to free jailed Colombian trade unionist

By Tim Sandle     Oct 14, 2013 in Politics
Justice for Colombia, a British organization that campaigns for human rights, is campaigning for the release of jailed trade union leader Huber Ballesteros.
According to U.N. figures almost 3,000 trade unionists have been killed in Colombia since 1986. Furthermore, in the first six months of 2013 at least 11 trade unionists were killed. In addition to physical attacks the report infers that imprisonment is often used to punish and silence trade unionists.
There are reports that U.S. corporations in Colombia have worked with paramilitaries in order to reduce union activity. Besides reported payments from multinationals to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) (Doe v. Chiquita Brands International): "Trade unionists have been particularly targeted by the paramilitaries, and most of the violence has been directed at leaders of unions of multinational corporations," according to the journalist Martin-Ortega.
In relation to one specific arrest, on Sunday 25 August 2013 trade union leader Huber Ballesteros was arrested and imprisoned. According to The Guardian Huber sits on the Executive Committee of Colombia's largest trade union federation, the CUT, as well as being Vice President of FENSUAGRO Agricultural Workers' Union and National Organiser for the union-backed Patriotic March movement.
At the time of his arrest Ballesteros was organizing mass strikes across the country. According to the campaign organization Justice for Colombia, the arrest of Ballesteros is an attempt by Colombian authorities to reduce trade union activities in the country.
To support the release of Ballesteros, the campaign organization Labour Start has organized an on-line petition directed towards President Santos, the Colombian head of state.
More about Columbia, Trade unions, Huber Ballesteros
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