Renton woman Nestora Salgado on hunger strike in Mexican prison

Nestora Salgado. (Photo courtesy
Nestora Salgado. (Photo courtesy of the organization Free Nestora Salgado.)

Renton’s Nestora Salgado Garcia, who ran a community police force in Mexico until her arrest, has been on a hunger strike for more than a week, protesting the conditions of her two-year detention by Mexican authorities.

Salgado was arrested in 2013, after the community police force that she commanded in Olinala, Guerrero, arrested local a city official on suspicion of stealing property. The official complained, and Salgado was accused of kidnapping and organized crime by federal authorities and placed in maximum security prison.

Since then, her family and her supporters say that Salgado has been denied due process, and that she has been given limited access to her attorneys to fight the case.

Her family told The Seattle Globalist earlier this year that Salgado is innocent of the charges, her arrest was politically motivated and they expect a long court battle.

Earlier this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a human rights monitor criticized Salgado’s imprisonment, saying that she has not been receiving access to needed medical care while in prison.

Politicians, including Rogelio Ortega, the interim governor of Guerrero, and U.S. Congressman Adam Smith, have called for Salgado’s release.

Her Seattle-based attorneys said this week that the Mexican government is being negligent.

“For weeks we have attempted to negotiate with Mexican officials for her release, but they have defied their international obligations,” said Seattle University School of Law professor Thomas Antkowiak, in a prepared statement. He is the director of the International Human Rights Clinic, which has led international litigation on Salgado’s behalf.

Also according to the statement, Salgado “informed her attorneys that Mexican officials drugged her and inserted needles throughout her body, producing electric shocks.”

“I felt like I was dying,” the statement quotes Salgado as saying.

“Far from protecting Nestora from the serious dangers corroborated by national and international organizations, Mexico has recently submitted her to medical examinations that resulted in her torture,” Salgado’s attorney Alejandra Gonza said in the statement.

Salgado’s sister, Cleotilde Salgado, told La Jornada Guerrero that Nestora Salgado had asked for an improvement of food at the prison because it was contributing to her deteriorating health. When they denied her request, she began to refuse eating. The family is concerned about her safety, according to the newspaper.

Salgado, an indigenous woman from Olinala, Guererro, re-established her roots there two years ago after living and working in Renton, Washington, for 20 years. To help combat a rise in crime in her hometown, the naturalized U.S. citizen founded a community police force, which indigenous communities are allowed to do under the Mexican constitution and Guerrero state law.

Nestora with Olinalá community police. (Photo courtesy Free Nestora Salgado.)
Nestora with Olinalá community police. (Photo courtesy of the organization Free Nestora Salgado.)