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November 21, 2013

FREE NESTORA SALGADO!

This article in Spanish / Este artículo en Español

See photos and videos of the Freedom Socialist Party's coordinated Free Nestora Salgado Protests from December 10.

The Freedom for Nestora/Libertad para Nestora Committee released the following report of the December 10 protests.

Protesters descend on Mexican Consulates to voice support for jailed indigenous leader Nestora Salgado

Free Nestora Salgado” solidarity rallies were held in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; New York City; Portland, Oregon; Mexico City; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Melbourne, Australia.

Supporters of naturalized U.S. citizen Nestora Salgado held protests at Mexican Consulates to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2013. Over the last four years, Salgado, a grandmother, has made numerous trips from her residence in Renton, Washington, to deliver clothing and supplies to the desperately poor residents of her hometown of Olinalá, Guerrero. Seeing the need to organize against economic and social injustice, she instilled in the women of Olinalá confidence in their ability to lead such a struggle. As a result, she was elected coordinator of a local armed indigenous police force officially authorized by the Mexican Constitution and Guerrero state law 701. Crime rates plummeted and killings stopped with the inauguration of the community police.

But, as Angie Galindo of YoSoy132 Nueva York said at a rally on the sidewalk outside New York City's Mexican Consulate, Nestora’s “only act of defiance was exposing the connection between the government officials of Olinalá and organized crime.” On August 21, local officials retaliated by arranging Salgado’s arrest on trumped up kidnapping charges and sending her hundreds of miles away to a federal prison in Tepic, Nayarit. Since her arrest, the federal government has maintained a military occupation of Olinalá to intimidate other residents and punish those who protest Salgado’s imprisonment.

Just before Thanksgiving, one of Salgado’s attorneys, Thomas Antkowiak, an Associate Law Professor at Seattle University and an expert in international human rights law, filed a petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Ms. Salgado’s behalf. He is requesting that the Working Group declare that Ms. Salgado’s detention is unlawful and that she be freed.

At the December 10 rallies, protestors presented consulate staff with letters to Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico, demanding Ms. Salgado’s release and the release of other community police who are also the victims of a political witchhunt. They delivered a list of over 80 individual and organizational endorsers of the campaign to “Free Nestora.” Endorsers included: the Seattle Human Rights Commission; National Lawyers Guild; Núcleo por un Partido Revolucionario Internacionalista, Dominican Republic; Partido Obrero Socialista, Mexico; Indigenous Social Justice Association, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; M.E.Ch.A de Portland State University, Oregon; and Central Puget Sound Carpenters Local 30.

Standing outside the Seattle consulate, Ms. Salgado’s husband, José Avila, shared the story of Salgado’s work in the Olinalá community and the harsh conditions of her captivity in Mexico. Her daughter, Grisel Rodriguez, described the use of military-style torture on Nestora, including keeping bright lights on in her cell 24 hours a day to cause disorientation and sleep deprivation.

Seattle Freedom Socialist Party organizer Su Docekal noted that among those calling for Salgado's release are: Nancy Shippentower, Puyallup tribal elder; Cecile Hanson, chairwoman of the Duwamish tribe; and Moonanum James of the United American Indians of New England. Ms. Docekal compared indigenous people’s struggle against mining companies in Mexico to the struggle of Native Americans against proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest and First Nations Peoples’ fight to preserve their water and way of life in the face of hydraulic fracturing and tar sands oil extraction in Canada.

Chippewa feminist and Seattle Radical Women spokeswoman Ann Rogers called Ms. Salgado’s detention a “horrible injustice” and told the crowd, “Just because you are an indigenous woman doesn’t make you a second-class citizen.”

Hortensia Colorado, from the Coatlicue Theatre Company in New York, is an indigenous immigrant woman from Mexico. She spoke about the Mexican government’s orchestrated plan to drive the poor and indigenous people off their land in order to hand it over to large-scale international mining corporations to extract gold, silver and other natural resources. She called it a continuation of the destruction of indigenous people and their land base that has gone on, unabated, for over 500 years.

Stephen Durham spoke at the New York City rally in the name of the Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR). He noted that Nestora captures in her own story the international solidarity and bravery which is critical to survival, not just of indigenous people, but to the poor and working classes of Mexico, of the U.S. and throughout our hemisphere. He noted that CRIR had played a pivotal role in getting the International Human Rights Day protests off the ground in four countries.

The international aspect of the gathering in New York was especially notable with the presence of attendees from Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Ecuador. Calls for Salgado’s freedom were also raised as part of an International Human Rights Day speak out in Melborne, Australia.

Professor Ana Fisher, a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 who teaches at City College of San Francisco, spoke about how crucial women leaders are to the struggles of workers and the poor in Mexico, pointing out that they are targets of the government precisely because they are fighting the hardest. Michelle Mundt, with Occupy Portland, was struck by the democratic process of electing a community police force as opposed to one being imposed on a community by the state.

In the Northwest corner of the U.S., Stop the Checkpoints, a community immigrant rights defense group in Port Angeles, Washington, held a protest on December 7 in support of Ms. Salgado’s release. Protesters there linked the struggles to defend indigenous rights in Mexico with standing up for undocumented workers in the U.S.

Marvelia Alpizar, reporter from La Opinion, and Guadalupe Lizárraga of the Los Ángeles Press attended the Los Angeles committee’s press conference and were addressed by Andy Diaz, American Indian Changing Spirits; Juan Rodriguez, Frente de Resistencia por México; Guillermo Torres, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, and others.

The demonstrations attracted considerable other media attention: a New York City-based reporter for La Reforma, one of Mexico’s major daily newspapers; Radio Marginal, a Mexican Internet radio station; a photographer from the New York Times web site; and representatives from “La Voz Latina,” WBAI Pacifica radio station. In Portland, KBOO radio and Indymedia covered the action. Univisión/Channel 14 and Bay Area Indymedia were on hand to cover the event in San Francisco. Seattle press included Univisión, radio stations KPLU (Pacific Lutheran University), KUOW (National Public Radio) and KBCS (Bellevue College), the Seattle Weekly, and the Westside Weekly. La Raza NW newspaper interviewed the family and Seattle attorney prior to the event along with KDNA, a Spanish language radio station from Eastern Washington. La Jornada Guerrero newspaper ran a large photo of the Seattle protest on its front page, under a heading that translates as “A cause that goes beyond borders.”

The protests were sponsored by Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora Committees in the various cities. If you would like to interview a member of the Salgado family or their attorney Thomas Antkowiak, or to join the movement for Libertad para Nestora/Freedom for Nestora, please call 206-708-5161 or email FreeNestora.Seattle@gmail.com.


The Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women urge you to join the international movement to free Nestora Salgado, brave indigenous woman and U.S. citizen who is working to help her people by exposing corrupt public officials and is paying for it. This strong, dynamic leader has been in prison in Mexico since August 21, 2013. Her crime was working with residents of her home town in the state of Guerrero to exercise their legal right to form a community police force to protect themselves from violent drug traffickers, criminal gangs, and unscrupulous officials.

Read a letter to U.N. Secretary Miguel de la Lama requesting her release and a statement of facts related to her case.

Read the misleading AP article which incorrectly states that Nestora led a "vigilante" police force, and Guerry Hoddersen and Fred Hyde's corresponding letters to the editor.

Read a letter delivered by Dominicans to the Mexican Consulate in the Dominican Republic on Dec. 10th.

You can help Nestora by clicking here to sign the petition demanding that President Obama secure her release.

Find information on demonstrations to be held on December 10, 2013 at U.S. Mexican Consulates at these locations.

Listen to a radio interview with Stephen Durham on the Nestora campaign. Interview starts at 7:00 mark.

Endorsing Organizations


Alianza Puertorriqueña, Los Angeles
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 28, Washington
Ángeles Sin Fronteras, Hugo Castro, Internacional Coordinator, San Diego
Anti-Oppression Forum, Poughkeepsie, New York
Aztec Group Mictlanxiuhcoatl, South Los Angeles
Bread is Rising Poetry Collective, New York City
Central America Solidarity Committee, Portland, Oregon
Central Puget Sound Carpenters, Local 30
Chiapas Support Committee
Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Tucson, Arizona
Coalición Humanitaria Internacional Pro Migrante, Southern California & Mexico
Coalition of Labor Union Women, Puget Sound Chapter
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter
Comité Por La Reagrupación Internacional Revolucionaria
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Copwatch, Santa Ana, California
El Centro de la Raza, Seattle
Far North Queensland Deaths in Custody Watch Group, Cairns, Australia
Free Association of Anarchists, Southern California
Free Marissa Now, U.S.
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, New York City
Freedom Socialist Party, U.S. & Australia
Frente de Resistencia por México, Los Angeles
Feminist Resistance, New York City
Green Party of Seattle
Indigenous Social Justice Association, Melbourne & Sydney, Australia
Insurgencia Femenina Radio Collective, Los Angeles
International Action Center, U.S.
International Artivism Collective—US, México, Guatemala, Dominican Republic
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77, Washington, N. Idaho, and NW Montana
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
International Socialist Organization, New York City
International Tribunal of Conscience (PueblosEnMovimiento), New Mexico
Izquierda Revolucionaria, New York City
Jobs with Justice, Portland, Oregon Chapter
La Voz Latina, WBAI-99.5 FM, New York City
La Zenka and Associated Indigenous Movements, New York City
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), San Francisco Chapter
Latin-American and Latino/a Studies Department, City College of San Francisco
M.E.Ch.A. de Portland State University, Portland, Oregon
Mexico-US Solidarity Network / Centro Autónomo de Albany Park, Illinois
Mictlanxiuhcoatl, Los Angeles
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter
Núcleo por un Partido Revolucionario Internacionalista, Dominican Republic
One in Three Women, Seattle
Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), Seattle
Pacific Northwest Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander
Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters
Partido Revolucionario de las Trabajadoras y los Trabajadores, Costa Rica
Partido Obrero Socialista, Mexico
Partido Socialista-Frente Amplio, U.S.
People's Organization for Progress, Newark
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee
Radical Women, U.S. & Australia
Seattle/King County Building & Construction Trades Council
Seattle Human Rights Commission
Seattle Martin Luther King Celebration Committee 2013-2014
Sisters Organize for Survival, Seattle
Socialist Core, New York City
Stop the Checkpoints, Port Angeles, Washington
Trabajadoras por la Paz, New York City
United American Indians of New England | Statement
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, Oregon and Southwest Washington
United Front for Justice and Dignity, California
Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 304, Seattle
Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 843, Seattle
Washington Incarceration Stops Here, Seattle
Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO
Witness for Peace Northwest, Portland, Oregon
Workers World Party, U.S
Yo Soy 132, Bay Area
YoSoy132 Nueva York, New York City & Chicago

Individuals


Thomas Antkowiak, Associate Professor of Law, Director, Latin American Program, Seattle University
Dr. Camilo Perez Bustillo, Founder and lead attorney, NMSU/UNAM, (Las Cruces, New Mexico and Mexico DF
Thomas Beilman, co-organizer for Portland Chapter of the Soda Stream Boycott
Richard Brown, former Black Panther and victorious San Francisco 8 defendant
Trish Coley, retired member, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 46*
Thandisizwe Chimurenga, community journalist, author of No Doubt: The Murder(s) of Oscar Grant.
Gerry Condon, Board of Directors, Veterans For Peace
Lawrence Danos, Unitarian Universalists for Peace,* San Francisco
Vernon Decker, Shoshone Nation*
Frank Martin Del Campo, president, San Francisco LCLAA
Elmer Dixon, co-founder, Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party
Chris Faatz, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 5*
Sharon Firebrace, Yorta Yorta leader and indigenous broadcaster, Melbourne, Australia
Allan Fisher, American Federation of Teachers, Local 2121*
Isabel Garcia, Co-chair, Coalición de Derechos Humanos & winner of the 2006 Human Rights Award by the Human Rights Commission of Mexico
Leslie Gersicoff, Executive Director, Jewish Labor Committee, Western Region
Marcel Hatch, Free the Cuban Five advocate, Vancouver, Canada
William T. Hathaway, adjunct professor of American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany
Guadalupe Lizárraga, independent journalist, Los Ángeles Press
Carlos Montes, Chicano activist, immigrant rights advocate, Fight Back News,* Los Angeles
Frank Medicinewater, Cheyenne/Arapaho & member of Central Puget Sound Carpenters, Local 30*
Karla P. Mejia, INCITE, Los Angeles
Adam Nee, Industrial Workers of the World*
Ricardo Ortiz, activist for an independent and socialist Puerto Rico
Ralph Poynter, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Annalee Purdy, IBEW Local 48*
Nancy L. Rising, Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 277*, Kirkland WA
Eddie Rye, human rights activists and radio talk show host, Seattle
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council-member elect, Socialist Alternative* & American Federation of Teachers, Local 1789*
Nancy Shippentower, Puyallup tribal elder
Ann Rogers, Chippewa Nation*
Ned Rosch, co-founder of the Portland chapter for the Jewish Voice for Peace
Samuel Solomon, Lecturer of Creative and Critical Writing, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Michael Sonnleitner, Political Science instructor, Portland Community College
Sam Watson, Birri Gubba Aboriginal activist & socialist, Brisbane, Australia
Roger Yockey, author & opponent of the School of the Americas
Alfredo Zarazúa, political and social conflict analyst, Chimaltenango, Guatemala
Rita Zawaideh, Arab-American Community Coalition* & Salaam Cultural Museum,* Seattle
(*for identification purposes only)

To endorse her campaign, send your name and/or organization via email to fhyde@igc.org.

Nestora's Story

Nestora Salgado is a naturalized U.S. citizen who grew up in the small indigenous village of Olinalá in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. She moved to the United States in 1991 at the age of 20, working as a maid, nanny and waitress. She splits her time between Olinalá and Renton, Washington, where she lives with her husband José Luis Avila, a construction worker, her daughters, and grandchildren. Over the past four years, she made numerous trips to deliver clothing and supplies to the desperately poor residents of her hometown.

Fighting poverty and violence in Guerrero. Guerrero has the highest murder rate in Mexico and a history of state involvement in massacres of indigenous peasants. During her trips home to Mexico, Salgado witnessed increasing poverty and the rise in violent crime and political corruption. This led her to become a community activist for the human rights of indigenous people in Guerrero and neighboring parts of Mexico. In particular, she became involved in the indigenous movement for community policing that has swept through the region during the past several years. Guerrero State Law 701 and Article 2.A of the Mexican Constitution guarantee the right of indigenous people to self-government and self-defense, including forming their own police forces.

Soon, Salgado was putting the laws into practice by organizing with others to form a community police force in Olinalá. Its officers formed patrols to defend residents against organized crime, particularly the Los Rojos gang. The gang had been terrorizing the community and operating with impunity due to the complicity of local officials, including the mayor.

The impetus for forming the community force was the murder of a local taxi cab driver who refused to pay protection money to Los Rojos. Salgado led a mobilization of village residents to drive the gang out of town and set up checkpoints to keep them from coming back. Last spring Salgado was elected “comandante” or coordinator. She has worked hard to develop the leadership of indigenous women and to empower them to stand up against domestic violence and child abuse.

Initially, Salgado was able to obtain the support of Angel Aguirre, the governor of Guerrero, who promised in writing to provide the force with uniforms, small arms, training and other support. The impact of the community policing, which relied on traditional means of accountability and social control, was dramatic—a 90% drop in the crime rate and no murders during the 10 months that it was in operation. (In the two months since the governor shut down community police, crime has increased and there were four killings, despite the presence of over a thousand marines and soldiers as well as state and federal police. Government forces harass community organizers, sometimes threatening to kill them, while protecting criminal activity.)

Nestora Salgado’s abduction and arrest. The official pretext for seizing her on August 21, 2013, was the arrest of several teenage girls for dealing drugs and the local sheriff, Armando Patrón Jiménez, for tampering with evidence at the crime scene of a double assassination where he attempted to walk off with a cow, the property of the deceased. She is falsely charged with kidnapping both the sheriff and the girls.

At a meeting five days before her arrest between the mayor and Salgado, she refused to let the sheriff, a political crony of the mayor, go free without trial by a peoples’ court. A few days later, she found herself transported by private plane to a maximum security prison 2000 miles from Olinalá. The arrest appears to be in retaliation for a press release Salgado issued that outlined the mayor’s and other government figures’ ties to drug trafficking.

Prosecuting indigenous leaders like Salgado and suppressing autonomous community police forces also serves a larger purpose—silencing vocal opposition by indigenous communities to foreign mining companies that have large contracts to extract mineral wealth from the mountains of Guerrero.

Political persecution and mistreatment in jail. Salgado was seized without an arrest warrant by federal soldiers at a checkpoint while driving home. She had been harassed with death threats by marines for several days prior to her arrest. Since the day after her arrest, Nestora Salgado has been incarcerated in the high security detention center of El Rincon, in Tepic, Nayarit, several days travel from Olinalá. There is no basis for the government's claim that such extreme measures are warranted because Salgado—a grandmother and well-respected citizen with no criminal record—is a danger to society. Furthermore, kidnapping is not a federal crime in Mexico and those accused are normally held in local jails.

Isolating Salgado from her supporters and family by transporting her so far away, without legal justification, is evidence that she is a political prisoner. Efforts to organize support in Olinalá for Salgado’s release and the revival of community policing are being suppressed by death threats and reprisals; Salgado’s advocates are being cut-off from public assistance, especially needed since a severe storm in mid-October.

For weeks, Salgado was held incommunicado. She was not allowed to see her attorney or family members, who had traveled the long distance to get to the penitentiary. She was only allowed a lawyer after the deadline had passed to petition for release while awaiting trial. Only one of her daughters and a sister has been able to visit her. This persecution is all for performing her lawful duties as the coordinator of the community police force.

Several years ago, Salgado was injured in a car accident that left her temporarily paralyzed from the neck down. Through extensive physical therapy, she was able to regain 90% of her functioning but is still unable to work. To manage severe neuropathy in her hands and feet, she relies on pain medication and frequent exercise. In prison, she has been denied both, worsening her physical and mental condition. Now she is being threatened with solitary confinement.

The recent assassination of another strong woman activist in Guerrero, Rocío Mesino Mesino, is a reminder that Salgado’s life is in jeopardy without close public scrutiny and strong support in Mexico and the United States.

Prepared by the Freedom Socialist Party National Office, 4710 University Way N.E., Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98105. For more information, call 206-985-4621 or email fspnatl@igc.org

Please sign the petition to free Nestora at www.tinyurl.com/nestora.