Guerrero: Community Police Leader Nestora Salgado Still in Federal Prison

Proceso: Marta Lamas*

0-391x293More than four months ago, I wrote about Nestora Salgado, a regional coordinator of the Community Police of Olinalá [Guerrero], who was illegally detained in retaliation for her courageous work against organized crime and municipal corruption; specifically, she was arrested for committing the crime of cattle rustling (stealing animals/livestock) and for presumably being involved in the murders of two ranchers. Accomplices of the official filed a complaint against her for "kidnapping."

Nestora was arrested in August 2013 during an impressive combined operation by military, state and municipal forces. She was taken first to Acapulco, where she spent six hours incommunicado, then moved a thousand kilometers [622 miles] away, to a maximum security prison in Nayarit. Initially, they ordered ‘preventive prison’ [remanded to prison] thanks to two lawsuits of ordinary jurisdiction, charging her with ‘kidnappings’ for detentions carried out by the Community Police within the framework of her duties. As a result of protests that emerged, and given the injustice of keeping her with charges of state jurisdiction in a maximum security federal prison (which isolated her from family and legal defense), federal charges were initiated pertaining to organized crime in the form of kidnapping. The federal charges were based on the same facts as the original state charges.

In March of this year, a federal judge dismissed the federal charges regarding organized crime and ordered her release. Professor Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the Faculty of Law, University of Seattle, who heads the international litigation for Nestora, said: "The judge acknowledged that Nestora acted legally as the leader authorized by the indigenous communities."

However, the woman remains imprisoned.

nestora-570x267After almost three months of red tape, since filing their request on March 18, 2014, three members of the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies and three lawmakers from Guerrero visited Nestora on Wednesday, May 28, in Tepic Prison. At a press conference on Monday, June 2, the two deputies (members of the PRD Parliamentary Group) asked the National Human Rights Commission to take a stand on the case. Given that the situation in which Nestora is being held is not adequate, they asked that she be transferred to Mexico City to participate in her legal process.

They demanded that the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB] provide precautionary measures for Nestora’s family because when her daughter Saira was traveling by bus from Olinalá to meet with legislators, she escaped an apparent assassination attempt against her. In the bus in which she was riding, they gunned down a woman with similar physical characteristics, who lost her life. The risk and political persecution to which the family is being subjected is very worrisome.

The Committee for the Liberation of Nestora has won the support of thousands of individuals and organizations (seefreenestora.org). The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are both monitoring the case.

On Monday, May 16, U.S. Congressman Adam Smith [D-Washington] gave a press conference at the University of Seattle Law Department, where he stated: "I am extremely concerned about the circumstances surrounding Nestora’s arrest, and I am outraged by reports of the deplorable prison conditions and treatment that violate her basic human rights."

Congressman Smith went on: "I have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to ensure due process, access to counsel and a fair legal process for Nestora. I also expressed my concerns and those of Nestora’s family for the inhumane treatment, and I have asked that the U.S. Embassy use all necessary means to ensure her health and safety while she remains in detention. Every individual should have the right to due process, and I am going to continue working with Nestora’s family and with her legal representation from the University of Seattle to press for fairness and legitimacy."
Nestora, who moved to the United States in 1991 at the age of twenty, also has U.S. citizenship. Of course, this was not worth much when she was arrested, or when they wouldn’t even allow her to make a call to the U.S. Consulate. Congressman Smith joined those who advocate for Nestora’s release, since she is a U.S. citizen who resides in Smith’s electoral district. The Seattle Times headlined the news of Congressman Smith’s press conference as the pressure mounts to free the Renton [Washington] woman imprisoned in Mexico ….
Review of the case is imperative, not only for the absence of due process, but for the damage to her health. The deputies already reported that she has even been denied potable water, forcing her to drink from the tap when the other prisoners are given a jug [of purified water]. In addition, the absence of medical treatment and keeping her in total isolation means psychological torture.

What is the Attorney General waiting for to take action on the matter?

*Marta Lamas Encabo (Mexico City, 1947) is a Mexican anthropologist and feminist. She studied ethnology at the National School of Anthropology and History and obtained an MA in Anthropology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has been a member of editorial boards of UNAM and the Economic Culture Fund, a founding member of La Jornada and founder of the magazine "fem", the first feminist magazine in Mexico, director of the magazine "Feminist Debate" and a columnist for Proceso magazine and the Spanish newspaper El Pais. In 1992, she founded the Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), to promote sexual and reproductive rights. In 2000 she founded the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute to train women in a gender perspective.

Translated by Jane Brundage
Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 24/06/2014

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