Two months since Mexican political prisoner Nestora Salgado was freed after more than two and a half years in high-security jail, three of her colleagues from the community police force she organized in the violence-ridden state of Guerrero are still in prison on trumped up charges, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported Sunday.
Gonzalo Molino Gonzalez, Arturo Campos, and Samuel Ramirez, fellow members of Salgado’s regional community police force in Guerrero, were similarly jailed on charges of “fabricated crimes” and remain behind bars as their freed leader continues to fight for political prisoners in Mexico to be released.
“Our people were suffering kidnappings, extortion, rape of young girls, and I could not sit with my arms crossed,” Gonzales said in an interview with La Jornada of his decision to take up the struggle with the community police force organizing against rampant violence and the reign of drug cartels, fueled by widespread impunity.
“They can lock me up physically, but my freedom is inside of me,” he added. “My thinking, my ideas, and my heart are free.”
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.
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.
Human rights activist Nestora Salgado raised her family in Renton. She’s a U.S. citizen and a human rights activist.
But most people know her now as a political prisoner. She’s been held in a Mexican prison for more than two years, with limited outside contact.
Recently, Salgado was transferred to a lower security facility, and allowed more visitors and phone calls.
KUOW’s Liz Jones met up with Salgado’s husband for an update on her case.
Desde la Torre Médica Tepepan, Nestora Salgado hizo un llamado para que la sociedad mexicana se movilice el próximo 27 de octubre de 2015 por las personas que se encuentran presas por motivos políticos y por las y los activistas y periodistas que han sido asesinados por levantar la voz en contra de los malos gobiernos. Nestora Salgado se encuentra presa desde hace poco más de 2 años a porque, al sumarse a la Policía Comunitaria de su pueblo, desafió a los criminales que se encuentran tanto dentro como fuera de la administración pública. Nestora Salgado se enfrentó al poder capitalista y patriarcal para defender los intereses de su pueblo Olinalá, en el estado de Guerrero.
Nestora has received and always supported the teaching college students of Ayotzinapa. This is a 3-minute video in Spanish that shows what happened the night of September 26, 2014 when 43 students disappeared and several were murdered. ¡Adelante!
Some German coverage of Nestora’s case from Amerika 21:
Gegen die seit zwei Jahren im Gefängnis sitzende Leiterin der Regionalen Koordination der kommunalen Bürgerwehr (CRAC-PC) der Gemeinde Olinalá im mexikanischen Bundestaat Guerrero, Nestora Salgado García, werden zwei weitere Strafprozesse wegen Totschlags und Freiheitsberaubung eröffnet. Dies hat ihr Anwalt, Leonel Rivero, vergangene Woche bekannt gemacht.
Damit gibt es nun insgesamt fünf Prozesse gegen Salgado, die seit Mai 2015 im Frauengefängnis “Tepepan” in Mexiko-Stadt einsitzt. Dort steht sie aufgrund der schweren Folgen eines 25-tägigen Hungerstreiks unter ärztlicher Beobachtung. In dem vorigen Gefängnis im Bundesstaat Nayarit bekam Salgado weder sauberes Trinkwasser noch medizinische Versorgung und erhielt Morddrohnungen von anderen Insassen.
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.
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.