This article is reprinted from The Stand, Washington State Labor Council
(Aug. 19, 2014) — Nearly one year ago, on Aug. 21, 2013, Renton resident Nestora Salgado, a naturalized U.S. citizen and leader of a legal indigenous community defense force in her hometown of Olinalá, Guerrero, was arrested. For 12 months, she has been imprisoned in Mexico on false charges and denied the right to see her lawyers.
A federal judge’s orders to free her have been ignored. Kept in isolation without medical attention, she represents hundreds of people in self-defense groups who have been jailed for defending their communities against powerful, politically connected criminal cartels. In Guerrero, indigenous people have the constitutional right to form such forces, known as comunitaria; they have been emulated in other states and communities by Mexicans who consider it a necessity for self-preservation and dignity.
TAKE A STAND — Join Nestora’s family, attorneys and supporters in demanding action from the Mexican government at a press conference at 11 a.m. this Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Mexican Consulate, 2132 3rd Ave. in Seattle. Attend Thursday’s Free Nestora Salgado rally from 4 to 6 p.m. outside the Federal Building, 915 2nd Ave. in Seattle. Contact our U.S. Senators and tell them that one year is too long! Contact Sen. Patty Murray — 206-553-5545 or via email — and Sen. Maria Cantwell — 206-220-6400 orvia email — and urge them both to speak out publicly NOW and call for Nestora Salgado’s release. Learn more, request a speaker, or donate via www.FreeNestora.org orFreeNestora.Seattle@gmail.com or on Facebook.
The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (WSLC) has called for Nestora Salgado’s release, urging U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to press for her release. Likewise, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-9th) has urged the same, saying:
I am extremely troubled by the circumstances around Nestora’s arrest and am outraged at reports of deplorable conditions and treatment that violate her basic human rights. I sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to ensure due process, access to attorneys, and a fair trial for Nestora. I also voiced my concerns, and the concerns of Nestora’s family, for her inhumane treatment, and asked that the U.S. Embassy use all means necessary to ensure her health and safety while she is detained. Every individual should have the right to due process, and I will continue to work with Nestora’s family and her legal representation at Seattle University to push for justice and fairness.
Following is a resolution approved by the WSLC Executive Board in February 2014:
RESOLUTION ENDORSING CAMPAIGN TO FREE NESTORA SALGADO
Approved by the WSLC Executive Board on Feb. 6, 2014
WHEREAS, Nestora Salgado is a resident of Renton, Washington, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and an indigenous leader imprisoned in Tepic, Mexico; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado and the indigenous citizens of her hometown of Olinalá, Mexico, decided to defend themselves from drug traffickers, corrupt politicians, and exploitation by mining companies by organizing their own legally-sanctioned, democratically-elected community police force with Ms. Salgado as their coordinator; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado’s duties included working to reduce domestic violence and child abuse and engaging in conflict resolution and community building; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado was jailed and falsely charged with kidnapping after community police officers under her command arrested the sheriff of Olinalá on theft charges and she insisted he stand trial like every other citizen; and
WHEREAS, Ms. Salgado is being denied medicine and medical attention in jail; and
WHEREAS, over 120 organizations and individuals have endorsed the campaign to free Nestora, including the Seattle Human Rights Commission, Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 8, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304, Puget Sound Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Coalition of Labor Union Women, the National Lawyers Guild, Central Puget Sound Carpenters Union Local 30, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) San Francisco Chapter, United American Indians of New England, and the Seattle Martin Luther King Celebration Committee 2013-2014; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council endorses the “Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora” campaign and urges affiliated organizations to do the same; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council urge the U.S. State Department to take immediate and rigorous action to secure Ms. Salgado’s release.