U.S. Congressmen Demand Freedom for Nestora

The imprisonment of a Mexican woman police commander is increasingly a hot issue between the United States and Mexico. Nine members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter August 29 to Secretary of State John Kerry urging Washington’s intercession on behalf of Nestora Salgado, jailed in Mexico since August 2013 on what supporters contend are trumped-up kidnapping charges.

A native of the southern state of Guerrero, Salgado lived and worked for many years in the United States, eventually becoming a citizen of this country. She later returned home only to encounter rampant insecurity and delinquency.

Determined to do something for her community, Salgado joined the community policing movement and became the coordinator of the Olinala branch of the CRAC, an indigenous-led organization that legally bases its grassroots policing efforts on the Mexican Constitution, Guerrero State Law 701 and the provisions of the International Labor Organization.

In their letter to Kerry, two U.S. senators and seven House representatives urge the Obama administration to work for Salgado’s freedom and safe return to her family currently residing in the state of Washington.

“We have closely monitored Ms. Salgado’s incarceration since her arrest and now call attention to the serious abuse of human rights and due process experienced by Ms. Salgado throughout her detention…” reads the Congress members’  letter to the U.S. Secretary of State.  “We urge you to employ the resources of the State Department to continue efforts to secure Ms. Salgado’s release.”

The letter was signed by Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Representatives Juan Vargas, Suzan DelBene, Jim McDermott, Rick Larsen, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, and Adam Smith.

Salgado’s supporters assert that she was unjustly jailed after the Olinala community police cracked down on organized criminal groups.  They also accuse authorities of treating Salgado like a dangerous delinquent, evidenced by her swift transfer to a maximum security prison far from Guerrero in the state of Nayarit.

Since her imprisonment, Salgado has been held in isolation, denied medical treatment and even prevented from meeting with family and lawyers, according to supporters and family members.

Supporters Felicitas Martinez and Beatriz Lumbreras accused prison authorities this past week of giving Salgado a “cocktail of medicines” that provoked depression.

Legal irregularities, beginning with Salgado’s imprisonment in one state far from the state where crimes allegedly occurred,  have riddled the case against the community police commander. In April a federal judge dismissed the charges against Salgado and ordered her immediately released, but the Guerrero state judicial system did not comply with the order and instead tacked on new charges against the community activist.

The controversy attracted the attention of Mexico’s federal government, which sent representatives to meet with Salgado in prison and prepare a report last June. Nonetheless, subsequent meetings between the Pena Nieto administration and Guerrero State Attorney General Inaky Blanca Carbrera have so far not resulted in a change in Salgado’s status.

Along with Dr. Jose Mireles and other imprisoned members of the self-defense and community police movements in Michoacan and Guerrero, Nestora Salgado’s case has become a prominent issue of political persecution at home and abroad. The story of Nestora Salgado is becoming a familiar one in the U.S. immigrant community, with supporters recently staging demonstrations for her freedom in Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago,  New York,  and other places.

Sources: La Jornada, September 5, 2014. Article by Rosa Rojas. El Sur, September 4, 2014. Laraza.com, September 5, 2014. Article by Belhu Sanabria. Rentonreporter.com, June 20 and September 2, 2014.

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