Colombian authorities arrested one of the organizers of an ongoing national strike on terrorism charges after accusing him of having ties to rebel group FARC.
The vice-president of agrarian workers union Fensuagro, Hubert Ballesteros, was arrested on Sunday after his name had appeared on computers belonging to slain FARC commanders “Mono Jojoy,” “Ivan Rios” and “Alfonso Cano.”
Ballesteros is one of the main organizers of a national strike that mobilized hundreds of thousands of rural Colombians and effectively shut down parts of Colombia’s countryside.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office said Ballesteros was arrested for his alleged role in seeking funds abroad for the guerrillas.
“According to evidence in hands of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the presumed participation of this gentleman in the financing and obtaining of resources abroad becomes clear,” deputy Prosecutor General Jorge Fernando Perdomo was quoted as saying on his institution’s website.
While the arrest took place in the middle of wide-spread unrest across Colombia, it “has nothing to do with the social protests taking place in the country or with the strikes,” Perdomo said.
Fensuagro said the arrest was “arbitrary” and “occurs within the framework of the ongoing national strike that has been violently repressed by the Colombian state.”
Ballesteros is not the only one within Fensuagro accused of ties to the FARC. Former union director Liliany Patricia Obando was convicted for rebellion, a common sentence for alleged FARC rebels, four months after she had been released from prison where she had been incarcerated since her arrest in 2008.
Ballesteros is one of Colombia Reports’ press contacts with the strike organization. In the first week of protests, at least 178 demonstrators were arrested.
UK-based human rights organization Justice for Colombia said earlier this month that six of the union’s regional leaders in the southern Putumayo department were also arrested.
- Capturado vicepresidente de Fensuagro por presuntos vínculos con las Farc (Prosecutor General’s Office)
- S.O.S Detenido Huberth Ballesteros (Fensuagro)
- Sixth FENSUAGRO activist arrested in Putumayo! (Justice for Colombia)