On 3 September, Tita Radilla, Martha Obeso, Norma Mesino, Sofía Méndoza, and Julia Alonso, being social activists from different regions of Guerrero state, visited the political prisoner Nestora Salgado, coordinator of the Communal Police in Olinalá, Guerrero. The social activists explained that“we came to visit Nestora to encourage her and tell her that we are struggling for her liberty.” The five women mobilized themselves in Mexico City to express their solidarity with Nestora Salgado, who is currently incarcerated in the Xochimilco prison. At the end of their visit, they affirmed that “she continues to be strong.” A representative from the Free Nestora Committee that is operating in Mexico City also visited, announcing that a tour in Guerrero would soon be launched. This visit forms part of the struggle against impunity that is lived in Guerrero, the activists added. Nestora Salgado undertook a hunger strike on 26 August 2015, 11 months after the forcible disappearance of the 43 student-teachers from Ayotzinapa. She has been imprisoned for two years.
by César Arellano García
MEXICO DF. — Activists and relatives of Nestora Salgado Garcia requested a meeting this afternoon with officials from the U.S. embassy in Mexico to ask them to intervene in the release of the ex-comandante of community policing from Olinalá, Guerrero, who remains on a hunger strike after 30 days.
Grisel Rodriguez, Rivero Sandino, Stephen Durham, Patricia Coley, and Daniel Vila Rivera, who are delegates representing the international campaign to free Nestora, were at the U.S. Embassy, located in the capital, to request a meeting with diplomats.
“My mother is American and is entitled to consular help and we want to know what the American government is doing to help,” said Grisel Rodriguez to these agencies, after delivering the request for a meeting.
“We came hoping they would listen to us, that they would give us an appointment and, if we are successful, an opportunity to ask questions,” said Rodriguez. The goal is to know what actions have been taken by the embassy and what more can be done.
“They have the power to take her (out of prison), that’s more than obvious, they just need to adopt a more aggressive attitude with the Mexican government. They can do it, they simply need to want to, or need to press the Mexican government until they act,” added the daughter of ex-comandante.
For his part, the lawyer Sandino Rivero said he hoped that at the next meeting, which may be held in two weeks, that there will be representatives of American diplomatic staff, in addition to relatives of Nestora and other international human rights organizations.
“Nestora Salgado is a U.S. citizen and has the right to consular assistance, and that her government defend her, regardless of whether she has a defense team,” he said.
According to Rivero, the embassy knew that Nestora Salgado is an American citizen, but to Nestora’s family it is important to meet with the diplomats to question them about what they have done or what they can do to win her freedom.
For the lawyer, the Mexican government did not respect the right to consular assistance, even when they were required to do it, since they never informed the embassy about Nestora’s arrest.
Salgado Garcia emigrated to the U.S. when she was 19 years-old to earn a living with her daughter who was just three. Once there she worked as a baker, waitress and cleaner in the state of Washington.
More than 10 years passed before she could come back to Guerrero.
In 2002, she returned to Guerrero and with “papers” that recognized her as a U.S. citizen.
On May 29, Salgado Garcia was relocated to the prison Tepepan, south of Mexico City, after an agreement between the Interior Ministry and the government of Guerrero to move her from the maximum security prison in Tepic, Nayarit, to a prison in the capital, in order to receive medical attention for her serious health problems.
The lawyer explained that the legal defense is at the moment making a presentation of the evidence against the three Olinála activists facing charges of kidnapping.
“The fact that she has been transferred to the prison of Tepepan itself is a breakthrough because legally we can interview her every day,” he said.
In the maximum security prison in Tepic, visits with lawyers were complicated by changes in defense attorneys (besides which the meetings only lasted 40 minutes) and although communication can now be more efficient, “you cannot forget that the charging party is in the mountains of Guerrero, and that,” said the lawyer, “delayed the process.”
Sandino Rivero also reported that visitors from the Human Rights Commissions (National and DF) went to the prison to ascertain Nestora’s health status, while her daughters and husband are insisting that Nestora stop fasting.
On August 21, 2013, the ex-comandante was arrested by forces of the Army, Navy and state police who, aboard tanks, hummer trucks and a helicopter arrived at mountain area and detained her, accusing her of “kidnapping and organized crime.”
The incident occurred after the Community Police arrested the procurator of Olinalá, Armando Jimenez, for a pattern for alleged cattle rustling (cattle stealing) and for allegedly covering up the murder of two ranchers.
Leaders of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), a Mexican trade union whose leaders have been camped out at the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City while in negotiations with the Secretary of the Interior, joined a demonstration in support of Nestora Salgado today. One of the banners which led the march was brought to Mexico by the delegates of the US Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado, an ex-comandante of the community police in Olinála, Guerrero. The families of other political prisoners and teachers marched to the Tepepan prison where Salgado is being held, after she was moved at the beginning of the week from a federal maximum security prison in Tepic, Nayarit. Spirits were high as she waved out the window of her hospital room.
June 4, 2015. Photo by Pablo Ramos.
Thousands of angry teachers took to the streets of the Mexican capital to protest labor policies that they charge are a step toward privatization of public education and put their workplace rights in jeopardy.
In addition to protesting against these policies, the teachers also called for the release of political prisoners, particularly Nestora Salgado. The protests coincided with the Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado’s visit to Mexico City. Campaign member Stephen Durham and Nestora Salgado’s daughter Grisel Rodriguez are also featured in the video.
We’ve received a promising update from San Diego:
June 3, 2015 (San Diego) Activists from multiple community groups arrived in front of the Mexican Consulate at 5 in the afternoon. They came expecting a response from the Consulate on the letter they turned in on Monday.
The group is committed to getting a response; their demand is the freedom of Nestora Salgado. While her imprisonment is no longer at the high security prison in Nayarit, but now at a mid-security prison in Mexico City, she remains in a hunger strike, now at the 30 day mark.
When they arrived outside the consulate they waited a short time and then they told the security guard they had an appointment with the Consul. They expected to be received by General Consul of Mexico in San Diego Remedios Gomez Arrau. Instead Alternate Consul Fernando Vargas received them.