The Southwest Colombian Human Rights Network (Red de Derechos Humanos del Suroccidente Colombiano) and political organisation the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica) released a joint statement on 2 January 2018 denouncing a new series of paramilitary threats made against trade unionist and political activist Huber Ballesteros, human rights defender Mayerli Hurtado Motta and their security escort Miguel Ángel Muñoz.
On the morning of 2 January, Mayerli and Miguel Ángel each received offensive and threatening messages through social media which warned they and Huber were to be targeted. The messages were accompanied by images of black binliners that appeared to be heavily full.
They are the latest threats in a prolonged campaign of intimidation against Mayerli and Huber for their political activity. Due to the security risk, the couple were assigned Miguel Ángel for protection.
The statement criticised the Colombian government and regional authorities for failing to provide security for human rights and political activists and for the ongoing repression of civil society by state security forces.
Huber Ballesteros was jailed without conviction in 2013, sparking a major campaign for his release spearheaded by JFC and the British and Irish trade union movements. This included JFC-organised visits to Huber in prison, where he was denied basic medication for diabetes. He was finally released in January 2017. In September 2017, JFC brought Huber to Britian, where he spoke at the TUC conference and met with several trade unionists and politicians.