The following is an announcement from Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora Committee.
August 21 marks the one-year anniversary of the political imprisonment of Nestora Salgado, a naturalized U.S. citizen and indigenous leader in her hometown of Olinalá, Guerrero in Mexico. Here in Seattle, Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora Committee will hold a rally at 4:00 p.m. at the Federal Building Plaza in downtown Seattle (915 2nd Avenue) to demand that Secretary of State John Kerry act to secure Salgado’s freedom from a Mexican prison.
On that same day, demonstrations and speak-outs will take place from Los Angeles to New York City and worldwide, including Mexico, Australia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and England.
A Renton, Washington, resident, Ms. Salgado made numerous trips to deliver aid to the impoverished residents of Olinalá. She was elected leader of a legally sanctioned civilian police force that defended the community from drug cartels and corrupt public officials. In performing her duties, Salgado angered local officials who seized her on trumped-up charges. A Mexican federal judge struck down the charges against her and called for her release last March, but the state courts have ignored the federal mandate and she is still behind bars.
Salgado has become the face of a larger struggle in Mexico. Other native self-defense forces have sprung-up in Mexico to guard villages from gangs, corrupt politicians, and land-grabs by international mining companies—with considerable success. Despite their effectiveness—or rather because of it—the Mexican government has jailed scores of these defenders. In June, Dr. José Manuel Mireles, a central organizer in the state of Michoacán, and over 80 of his civilian forces were arrested as they mobilized to take public control over the largest seaport in Mexico from the Knights Templar, a criminal cartel. Salgado and Mireles have become symbols of resistance against the Mexican government’s corruption and violent repression.
Held in a maximum-security prison, Salgado has been denied the right to see her lawyers, and refused clean water and necessary medical treatment. In a statement on International Women’s Day in March she described prison life: “I am isolated from all the other inmates. One of my daughters and one of my sisters can only visit me every two weeks … for only a few minutes of conversation … I know they want to break me, but this will not happen.”
The Freedom for Nestora Committee has built international support with over one hundred endorsers of the campaign. Local organizations include the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; El Centro de la Raza; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Coalition of Labor Union Women; Freedom Socialist Party; One in Three Women; Radical Women; Seattle Human Rights Commission; Seattle Martin Luther King Celebration Committee 2013-2014; Washington Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 28; and the Seattle/King County Building & Construction Trades Council.
Congressman Adam Smith called for Salgado’s release at a press conference in June, as did the Renton City Council in a resolution passed on August 4. The Committee is urging Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to take a public stand calling for Salgado’s release and for Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene. Said Su Docekal, chair of the Seattle Committee, “It is urgent that the U.S. government speak out on behalf of this U.S. citizen and extraordinary woman leader.”
For more information about the August 21 International Day of Protest, visit FreeNestora.org or call 206-722-2453.