La Jornada: “Nestora’s family asks the U.S. embassy for assistance”

by César Arellano García

This article in Spanish / Este artículo en españolunnamed (4)

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.