Support continues to grow for the release of clinic client Nestora Salgado

January 15, 2015

 Support continues to grow for the release of Nestora Salgado, who has been imprisoned in Mexico for 18 months and who is represented by the International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University School of Law.

Rogelio Ortega, governor of the Mexico State of Guerrero, requested that prosecutors drop the charges against Nestora Salgado. Salgado, a resident of Renton, was arrested for her leadership of an indigenous community police group in her hometown of Olinalá,  Guerrero, which has a long tradition of legally recognized community self-defense groups.

Tom Antkowiak "We are very encouraged by the new governor's support of Nestora," said Clinic Director Thomas Antkowiak. "This is the first time the Guerrero state government has responded favorably to our legal defense."

U..S. Rep. Adam Smith, who has called upon Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene on behalf of Nestora and spoke at the law school, reiterated his support.

"This is a critical step forward, but we must continue to pressure Mexican officials to take action and bring resolution to this case," he said. "I will continue to work closely with Nestora's family and the Department of State to ensure she is released from prison."

Antkowiak said it remains to be seen whether Guerrero state prosecutors will comply with the governor's request. Gov. Ortega took office in October last year, and the state prosecutor is also new since Salgado's initial detention.

The new governor's action adds yet another voice urging for Nestora's release. Last year, a Mexican federal judge dismissed the criminal charges against her and issued an order of immediate release from federal prison.  Federal criminal charges against Salgado were dismissed last year, but she remained in custody on state kidnapping charges.

"It is urgent that the U.S. State Department issue a public statement and intervene on Salgado's behalf," said Su Docekal, chair of the Freedom for Nestora Committee in Seattle. "The political situation is volatile, so time is of the essence."

Nestora Salgado Salgado was arrested in August 2013 for her courageous community work in the small indigenous village of Olinalá. Guerrero law and the Mexican Constitution guarantee the rights of indigenous communities to form their own justice and security institutions. Salgado was a leader of a community-policing group that legally forms part of state law enforcement, and had the express approval of Guerrero's governor. 

Authorities abruptly changed position, however, when the group arrested a local official for committing a crime. Salgado was immediately seized by military forces and flown nearly 1,000 kilometers away to the maximum-security prison of El Rincon, in Nayarit.  She was denied visits from her elected attorney and family members. She has been held in solitary confinement and has been refused clean water and medical treatment. 

A naturalized U.S. citizen, Salgado moved to the United States in 1991 at the age of 20. More recently, she divided her time between Olinalá and the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband, José Luis Avila, her daughters, and grandchildren.

A broad coalition of national and international supporters has demanded Salgado's release. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and several U.S and Mexican political leaders are closely monitoring the case.

 

Press Contact:

Claudine Benmar,  (206) 398-4175 , benmarc@seattleu.edu