My name is Nestora Salgado García. I am 42 years old and have three daughters and four grandchildren. I have been unjustly jailed since August 21 of last year. Even though I am jailed and my captors want to break me, I speak to you with optimism on this International Day Women’s Day 2014.
This is a message to the women of Mexico and the United States, as well as the women of other countries where women suffer discrimination.
My message is to resist, to protest and to fight whenever you find yourself humiliated in your place of work, your community or even in your own home
The life of women in countries such as Mexico is very difficult, above all in campesina families and communities like mine in the mountains of Guerrero, a state which has always had a lot of poverty and inadequate levels of all types of services. Guerrero also has suffered a lot of corruption and abuse at the hands of government officials.
I have always worked to take care of my daughters, the first of whom was born when I was 16 years old. I had to emigrate from Mexico to the United States where I worked doing many things like cleaning houses and working as a waitress in restaurants. Through my own efforts, I managed to become a U.S. citizen. But I never forgot my roots, my parents, my brothers and sisters and my family who I frequently visited. Neither did I forget my community. I could not remain indifferent to what was taking place with my neighbors and in my hometown of Olinalá, which unfortunately was happening in other places in our cherished Mexico.
The abuses of organized crime had become commonplace every day. It had become impossible to live in peace. We could not leave our houses. We could not work, travel, mount a business or confidently send our children to school. We could not go to the town square in peace and enjoy an ice cream. So, the community suddenly organized itself and elected me as its representative. I became the coordinator of Olinalá community police.
In the beginning, the government officials supported the community police. The governor of Guerrero provided us with two vehicles and other support. We also received official documents designating us as community police.
As the community police, we did our job and we did it well. We served the community of Olinalá. We confronted organized crime and those who supported it. In the first year, the index of major crimes dropped by 90%. Maybe this is why the government ended up attacking us and taking me into custody together with 12 other CRAC (Regional Coordination of Community Authority- Community Police) in Guerrero.
I was arrested in an impressive display of military and police force, greater than any used previously in apprehending the worst drug traffickers. Within hours, I was sent to a high security prison in Nayarit where I am currently held as if I were a dangerous animal.
I am isolated from all the other inmates. One of my daughters and one of my sisters can only visit me every two weeks. I cannot speak to anyone. I never see the sun or enjoy sunshine. I receive none of the pain medication I need due to a car accident I suffered. I am allowed no magazines or newspapers. I cannot even receive a letter from my husband who is in the United States, nor a drawing from one of my grandchildren. I am allowed only a few minutes of conversation with my daughter Zaira. I cannot watch television.
I know they want to break me but this will not happen. I know that in locking me up they want to send a message to all the women and men in Mexico standing up against injustice. But they will not break me. I will never ask for forgiveness from my jailers. I have no reason to ask from anyone, especially the Mexican government. Out of my mouth and from my heart, you will hear only words of encouragement for all those who, like me, have committed themselves to accomplishing something for their communities and their families.
I want to speak especially to the women–to the wives and the mothers of the other imprisoned other community police. I say we will endure the cold prison. And we believe that the day is near when we will be free.
To all women, I say: Do not give in to anything or anyone. Do not tolerate any corrupt government official or mafia criminal. Do not tolerate discrimination or mistreatment from anyone.
To the women of Olinalá, I ask that you continue the struggle that we began a year ago with our husbands and neighbors.
My captors are piling up charges against me. But I know that in the end I will walk out of this jail. I will do so with my head high because I know that no one believes that I am a criminal. There are honest people in Mexico, in the United States and other countries who know that I am a political prisoner.
I will leave prison to take up once against the struggle for community police that I initiated.
Onward women of Mexico and the world! History teaches us that sacrifices are necessary to accomplish what we want. Let us stand fearless and determined to do away with evil and those who support it. This is how we women will build a bright and better future.
–From the high security prison in Tepic, Nayarit, March 7, 2014
Reprinted by: Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora–Seattle Committee
FreeNestora.Seattle@gmail.com . 206-722-2453 . Facebook.com/FreeNestora
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