It’s not a rallying cry now, but a description of the grandmother and community police force leader who is back in Seattle after nearly 30 months in jail in Mexico.
Since her return Nestora Salgado has had moments of celebration, but the woman known as “La Comandante” is under no illusion that her fight is over.
“I need to go back because my people need me,” she said in Spanish, at an interview at her Renton home. “I know that community policing is necessary for the people, the organizing of the people. And if I can do it I’m going to do it, even I have to pay the highest cost.”
Two and a half years after she was thrown into a Mexican federal penal facility, arrested without a warrant and charged with kidnapping, indigenous community police leader Nestora Salgado was freed from Tepepan Women’s Social Rehabilitation Center in Mexico City mid-March.
A judge threw out the charges against Salgado on March 17 after stating they had no basis. While in custody, the activist originally from Olinala, Guerrero endured a stint in a maximum-security prison, solitary confinement, and the denial of medication and physical therapy she needed to fully heal from injuries she sustained in a car accident in 2002.
A day after her liberation order, Salgado participated in a news conference where she detailed the injustice and frustration surrounding her detainment. “I felt that I was buried alive in a drawer. I was out of touch for 20 months, in isolation for a crime that I did not commit. They didn’t even let me coexist with the other prisoners. I only saw them when I went to court. They treated me in the most brutal way that they could. It’s difficult to struggle against the government when they are out to get you, but it’s even worse that they did this when all I wanted was to defend my community,” stated Salgado.
Please enjoy our welcome home video for Nestora Salgado! And don’t forget that the fight is ongoing: there are many political prisoners still in Mexico who desperately need our support!
Nestora landed safely in Seattle yesterday! Here she is with her husband José and daughter Grisel, flanked by supporters. ¡Nestora libre!
Nestora Salgado was immediately slapped with new charges after judges ordered her release, but lawyers are hopeful she will still soon walk free.
Jailed U.S.-Mexican activist Nestora Salgado remains in prison despite a court order demaning her release, some 30 months after being arrested. However, the weak footing of the new homicide and kidnapping charges leveled against her might mean she’s close to regaining her freedom, local media reported Wednesday.
Salgado, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, was arrested in August 2013 on charges of kidnapping and engaging in organized crime after returning to her hometown of Olinala in the violence-ridden state of Guerrero to organize a community police force, and to take a stand against drug cartels and state complicity in violence.
Muchas gracias to the talented Bethany Leal who donated this beautiful birthday cake for Nestora! Keep up the great work!
According to the International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University School of Law, Guerrero law and the Mexican Constitution guarantee the rights of indigenous communities to form their own security institutions. Salgado’s group was officially part of state law enforcement and had the express approval of Guerrero’s governor, the clinic states.
“Today’s her birthday,” said Salgado’s husband Sunday night from his apartment in Renton.
Jose Abila’s never given up hope that his wife will come home.
“I know what I have to do, you know. Every single day keep fighting for her to come home,” he said. “The only thing we need is for the U.S. government to do the final push for her to get released.”
Jailed Mexican activist Nestora Salgado has yet to see freedom two and a half years since she was arrested amid organizing a community police force in the violence-ridden state of Guerrero, but she was far from alone Sunday as family members and supporters gathered outside the prison to celebrate the community leader’s birthday and continue demanding her release.
Seattle city council is joining in the debate of whether to join the growing chorus of calls for the immediate release of Nestora Salgado, a former Renton resident, who is now in a Mexican prison.
Salgado was arrested in August, 2013 in her home state of Guerrero, where she led a legal community police force to fend off organized crime.
A resolution brought forward by council member Kshama Sawant would urge authorities in Mexico and the United States to “increase its efforts to secure her release.”