By FRED HYDE
Special to The Stand
(Oct. 13, 2014) — An international day of protest marked the one-year anniversary of indigenous leader Nestora Salgado’s incarceration in federal prison at Tepic, Nayarit. A resident of Renton, Wash., Salgado is in jail for conscientiously carrying out her legal duties as the elected coordinator of the community police force of her home town of Olinalá, Mexico. The crowds that gathered for this action on Aug. 21 reflected growing support for Nestora in Mexico and the United States as well as in Australia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Argentina.
In Seattle, Washington State Labor Council Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson spoke at a press conference held at the Mexican Consulate. She joined other labor and community leaders in calling for action by the U.S. State Department to pressure the Mexican government to free Nestora.
That plea has had an impact. Just over a week later, Nestora’s congressional representative in the U.S., Adam Smith, issued a letter signed by eight members of the Washington state Congressional delegation and a member of the Hispanic Caucus from California. The letter calls on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to use the resources of his office to free Salgado.
The public stand in support of Salgado by members of Congress helped motivate adoption of a resolution by the 1.6 million member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO. It echoes the call for the State Department to take immediate and rigorous action to obtain Nestora’s release.
Despite this outpouring of support, the main task still lies ahead: getting Nestora and her fellow political prisoners out of jail in Mexico.
Nestora and her co-defendants come from poor and working-class families who have nowhere near the resources that the government of Mexico has at its disposal. Because of this disparity, Mexican officials believe they can act with utter impunity in violating their due process and human rights. For almost a year, Nestora was denied access to her volunteer lawyers and has never been before a judge.
More is at stake here than just personal liberty. The right of working people in Mexico to organize in their communities to defend themselves and their communal lands against political corruption, criminals and mining companies is at risk if the government can suppress popular protest by armed force, torture, unlawful detention and mass murder. But that is what President Enrique Peña Nieto’s current policy of political repression has engendered, including the recent killing/disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico.
Meanwhile, fellow community police coordinators Arturo Campos, Gonzalo Molina and Marco Antonio Suástegui, leader of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota dam, find themselves in the same situation as Nestora — political prisoners arbitrarily detained hundreds of miles from their homes. They and hundreds more deserve our help and support.
To keep the effort to free Nestora alive and growing the Freedom for Nestora campaign needs your financial contributions.
As Nestora’s husband José Luis Avila says, “We could not have done so much on my wife’s behalf without the bighearted donations we received thus far, many from labor unions that endorsed the campaign early on.”
Please donate generously to free this brave woman who has become a symbol for the broader movement for indigenous rights in Mexico. Click here to donate online or send checks made out to Radical Women – Nestora Fund at 5018 Rainier Ave. So, Seattle, WA, 98118. (Radical Women is administering the U.S. Freedom for Nestora Fund.)
For more information visit or email FreeNestora.Seattle@gmail.com.