August 21, 2014
President Enrique Peña Nieto
Los Pinos, Casa Miguel Aleman
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec
CP 11850, Mexico DF
Dear President Enrique Peña Nieto,
August 21 marks the one year anniversary of the illegal incarceration of Nestora Salgado, comandanta of the Olinalá, Guerrero community police force in a high security federal prison. She and 10 of her comrades, including leaders Gonzalo Molina and Arturo Campos, have been stripped of their constitutional rights, denied due process, locked-up far from their families in order to break their spirits, and subjected to miserable and life-threatening treatment for a non-existent crime—protecting the people of Olinalá, as guaranteed under the Mexican constitution, from criminals and unscrupulous local political figures.
We are present today at Mexican Consulates in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon on this one-year anniversary to demand that Nestora Salgado, her compatriots and the ever-growing number of other political prisoners in Mexico be freed immediately.
In the case of the Olinalá community defense force, there was no basis for their arrest in the first place and is no basis now for their continued detention. A federal court agrees with us. It dismissed the charges that were used as the pretense to jail Nestora and ordered that she be released. However, the Guerrero state prosecutor is refusing to do so. In the meantime, she has only been permitted to see her lawyer once for 45 minutes in an entire year. This is a complete mockery of the rule of law and casts the entire Mexican political and judicial system into question.
Instead of resolving this blatant miscarriage of justice over the last year, the federal and state governments have employed the Mexican military and state police to expand the bloody assault on civilian defense forces and indigenous communities.
On May 2, paramilitary forces (in which PRI is implicated) attacked a Zapatista elementary school killing Jose Luis Solís López, a teacher, and wounding 15 others.
On June 17, Marco Antonio Suástegui, respected leader of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota dam was arrested by state police from the Guerrero Attorney General’s office on completely fabricated charges of robbery and attempted murder, severely beaten and sent to the same prison as Nestora.
Ten days later, Dr. José Manuel Mireles, leader of autodefensas forces in Michoacán was tricked into meeting with an army officer who arrested him after planting drugs in his vehicle. Federal and state police and the Mexican army (SEDENA) and navy (SEMAR) were all involved in this action which included arresting 82 other autodefensas. All were charged with arms violations for carrying weapons that supposedly were for the exclusive use of the armed forces.
And on July 9, Federal District state police shot and killed a 13-year-old boy and injured 40 other Nahua citizens of Puebla who were blocking a highway to protest new laws that deprived them of their traditional rights.
It seems that the federal government does not care about poor and working people, their rights or ability to make a living. We know that the U.S. government is complicit in this attitude toward the people of Mexico, funding as it does the Mexican military and counter-insurgency programs to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
This is in sharp contrast to the community police forces and self-defense groups who risk their lives to maintain order and security in their hometowns.
Clearly there is deep seated racism in the treatment of indigenous fighters like Nestora Salgado and Marco Antonio Suástegui, but we know that beyond this there is a hunger in high places to privatize and exploit communal land in Mexico for international corporate profit. To do this, the federal government must first rid itself of the indigenous leaders who defend the inheritance of their people. Among these leaders are many women who have stood on the front lines like Nestora Salgado to save their way of life, refusing to be intimidated by criminals or corrupt politicians, the military and their arsenals.
They will not surrender and neither will we, the movement to Free Nestora and all political prisoners in Mexico. To deny the citizens of your country the right to fight back against extortion, mass murder, intimidation, rape, exploitation and the theft of communal lands is a form of genocide. To allow the U.S. government to continue arming and training the Mexican military to oppress its own people is an abomination. We join with the working and poor people of Mexico in demanding an end to the corruption, impunity and endless drive for super profits.
We wrote you almost a year ago regarding the unjust incarceration of Nestora Salgado. In the months that have passed since then, military and state police repression has widened and the bodies of the victims have continued to pile up. The responsibility for these deaths rests at your door. You alone can call off the Mexican military and open the prison doors. This reign of terror must end. U.S. counterinsurgency forces and their corporate and criminal partners have no place on Mexican soil, the birthplace of the proud 1910 Revolution.
We call on you to act now and look forward to a prompt response to this letter. Rest assured, we will not be silent. We demand freedom for Nestora Salgado and all political prisoners NOW.
Freedom for Nestora Committees, U.S.