Friday, September 27, 2013

Colombian Christian leader accused of FARC affiliation

Mennonite faces renewed charges by right-wing paramilitary group

Ricardo Esquivia Ballestas, pictured in 2012 at a
Lutheran World Federation event in Bogotá, Colombia.
Milton Blanco / Flickr / Creative Commons
A pamphlet produced by paramilitary group Los Urabeños has accused Ricardo Esquivia Ballestas, director of the Mennonite church-affiliated Foundation Sowing Seeds of Peace, of affiliation with the Colombian government and Latin America’s oldest left-wing guerrilla insurgency, FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
It accuses him and other community leaders of promoting the return of the armed group to the mountain region of El Carmen de Bolivar in the northern Colombian department of Bolivar. He is also accused of robbery and extortion.
The accusations likely stem from his organisation’s work in helping return land to farmers displaced by paramilitary groups between 2000 and 2004. Government authorities often misunderstand the motivations of human rights workers, assuming them to be affiliated with leftist rebels. 

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