Community activist Nestora Salgado lives in Renton, normally.
She grew up in Olinala, Mexico, and over the last few years she’s been returning frequently and getting involved in the community – so involved that she ended up running a legal community police force. Mexican law allows indigenous communities to form such groups.
In August, local Mexican authorities arrested Salgado. Her supporters say she’s a political prisoner.
On Tuesday morning in Seattle, her 23-year-old daughter, Griselda Rodriguez, addressed a small supportive crowd. She said her mom has been tortured in prison.
“All she wanted was for people in her hometown to feel that they have the right to live, to live safely,” Rodriguez said. “She began to show evidence of a lot of political corruption which is why she is now in a maximum security prison.”
The human rights law clinic at Seattle University submitted a legal brief two weeks ago to the United Nations, requesting Salgado’s release.
Thomas Antkowiak, the director of the clinic, said this case clearly violates international law. He says federal soldiers at first didn’t let the family know where Salgado was. They worried she’d been killed. After more than a week, they learned she was in prison. Now, Antkowiak said, she is falsely charged with kidnapping.
“There are patterns of this already occurring in Guerrerro,” Antkowiak said. “There are a number of community activists, indigenous activists, community police force activists who again are operating within bounds of the law who have been harassed intimidated, detained and even assassinated in recent months in Guerrerro.”
Antkowiak said he has a signed memo from the governor of Guerrerro pledging support to the community police force Salgado runs. He said he hopes US officials will now get involved.
Authorities in Mexico did not respond to KUOW’s request for a comment on the case.
For now, Salgado’s husband and daughters are trying to get by. They hope to get support from Washington’s US senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and officials from the US embassy.
Griselda Rodriguez’s sister is staying in Mexico, in hopes their mom will be able to call her.
“I have to be you know, like, the voice for us,” Rodriguez said. “And then my four kids now. I went from having two to four. It’s rough, but I have to keep moving you know. I can’t just sit home and cry.”