For the past two years, though, Salgado has been stuck behind bars, accused by the state of Guerrero of kidnapping.
Guerrero state attorney general Miguel Ángel Godínez Muñoz and other Mexican authorities maintain Salgado crossed the line when the community police force she led detained three cocaine-dealing teenagers and a town official who Salgado claims worked closely with the cartels. Groups such as Mexico SOS that advocate for kidnapping victims and their families have argued that Salgado should not be released without a trial.
But among those demanding her release are dozens of human rights advocates, recently elected Guerrero Gov. Rogelio Ortega Martinez, and 13 Mexican senators, along with her supporters and family in Washington state. Mexico’s federal courts dropped similar charges filed against her, according to her lawyers, but state prosecutors in Guerrero continue to pursue it.
Nestora Salgado is a mother of three who left her hometown of Olinala, Mexico as a teenager 20 years ago for a new life in the United States. She became an American citizen and worked three jobs to provide for her family. But after a car accident in 2002 nearly killed her, she quit working and moved back to her hometown just as drug cartel rivalries became more violent.
The cartels fought for territory around Olinala, subjecting residents to kidnappings, extortion, and murder. Outraged, Nestora became the leader of a community police force that took on the cartels by arresting murderers and drug dealers. She operated under legally recognized community policing rules that were enacted to protect indigenous populations after a massacre of peasants by state security forces in 1995.
Two years ago she was arrested by Mexican authorities.
In the first major international news coverage of Nestora Salgado, The Guardian offers a stirring look at Nestora’s steadfast dedication to ending the rule of cartels in Mexico.
Nestora Salgado is not a woman who caves in easily.
A child bride who soon became a single mother of three, Salgado was still a teenager when she left her hometown in the mountains of southern Mexico to rebuild her life in the US.
Two decades later, she returned home to lead an armed rebellion against drug traffickers and corrupt local authorities – only to be accused of kidnapping and imprisoned.
Salgado spent 21 months in a high-security jail until a hunger strike galvanized international support for her case and helped secure her transfer last month to the medical wing of a more relaxed facility.
Now, in her first interview with the international press, Salgado argued that she was guilty of nothing more than helping her community stand up to the narcosand their corrupt political allies, and called on the Mexican government to release her and drop all the charges.
July 2, 2014
Statement by the Partido Obrero Socialista, Mexico
Freedom for Dr. Mireles, Nestora Salgado and all the imprisoned community activist and self-defense forces.
We call for the formation of a National Committee for the release of these activists.
The federal government’s fulfilled its threats to arrest and detain José Manuel Mireles and 80 of his fellow self-defense force compañeros. It did this just as they were preparing to take over the seaport of Lázaro Cardenas, which is a stronghold of the Knights Templar drug cartel and a strategic hub for the export of iron and other minerals which organized crime has stolen for years with impunity and sold to China. The theft of these minerals occurs by seizing communities and land in the states of Michoacán, Jalisco and Colima. These ill-gotten gains have delivered one billion dollars in five years to the organized criminals of the Knights Templar.
It is no coincidence that the “commissioner” Alfredo Castillo, representative of President Peña Nieto in Michoacán, has targeted Mireles and his companions for arrest. This occurred just when self-defense forces were about to deal a death blow to the Templar economic empire. This is when the Mexican bourgeoisie cried out!
Some of the most respected minds of Mexico have denounced the “mutual aid society” that operates seamlessly between organized crime and the Mexican bourgeoisie. The violence of drug trafficking serves the interests of capitalism by opening the road for multinational large-scale mining companies to terrorize local populations and force the abandonment of mineral-rich homelands. At the same time using the well-worn narrative of “fighting drugs,” the capitalist state justifies the militarization of the countryside and unleashes the most brutal repression against the indigenous peoples, against the Zapatista EZLN, against workers, against CNTE teachers, and against the poor and their leaders.
Organized crime and the government of Mexico are members of the same family! They are one and the same thing!
In addition, the insecurity and the reign of organized crime continue to plague vast regions of the country where the authorities are incompetent to deal with the criminal elements or their accomplices. In a report on June 30 the Reforma newspaper presented as its most important news item a story about town of Tlalnepantla (practically within the city of Mexico) where self-defense forces have the support of more than 600 residents.
The arming of the Mexican population continues. The jailing of Mireles and the continued imprisonment of Nestora Salgado, the community police commander of Olinalá, Guerrero, along with other self-defense and community activists is the response of the government which wants to crush the independent action of the people .
The Peña Nieto government loathes the indigenous community police and the self-defense forces that have emerged throughout the majority of Mexican territory.
Pretty soon the prisons and dungeons of Mexico will not suffice to hold all the brave men and women who dare to stand up to the evil and abuse of the drug-trafficking, traitorous Mexican government.
Almost a year ago, Nestora Salgado and her community police compañeros in Guerrero were imprisoned.
Today José Manuel Mireles Valverde and his self-defense compatriots from Michoacan are jailed.
It is our duty to defend these noble rebels–Mexican men and women. We must not allow the government to continue to rage against the Mexican people and their leaders.
That is why we issue the following call
TO THE PEOPLE OF MEXICO
TO ALL REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATIONS
TO THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND THE EZLN
TO THE COMMUNITY POLICE
TO THE SELF-DEFENSE FORCES
TO THE WORKERS
TO THE INDEPENDENT UNIONS
AND TO ALL THE STUDENTS
TO UNITE FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF JOSE MANUEL MIRELES, NESTORA SALGADO AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONER COMPANEROS.
WE ISSUE THIS CALL TO ORGANIZE A NATIONAL MOBILIZATION FOR THE FREEDOM OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS AND FOR A HALT TO THE REPRESSION AGAINST THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AND AGAINST THE COMMUNITY POLICE AND FOR RESPECT IN THE TREATMENT OF ALL THE SELF DEFENSE FORCES THROUGHOUT MEXICO.
PARTIDO OBRERO SOCIALISTA