With all the recent talk in Mexico about Michoacán’s self-defence groups (Autodefensas), it would be easy to forget that citizen self-defence forces have existed for a while now. For example, the Community Police (PC) in Guerrero came into being around 1995 and, by 2011, had 750 members and three ‘Houses of Justice’ attending to 62 communities in 11 municipalities. The Law of Public Security, passed in 2007, and Law 701, from 2011, recognise this organisation as an additional, legal police authority.
The PC was formed to ensure the security of citizens in one of Mexico’s poorest, most volatile, and most militarised states, where several indigenous leaders have been murdered, women have been raped, people have disappeared, and several members of the PC of Olinalá have been arrested. Nestora Salgado is one of those who have been arrested.
After a turbulent youth, Nestora left for the US, where she worked to save money for her children and soon obtained US citizenship. In 2002, she returned to her hometown of Olinalá. Seeing the poverty around her, she began to support the community, soon becoming a local PC leader. In the role, she led an operation last August to detain a man accused of theft and murder. The PC subsequently took him to the ‘House of Justice’, but his family denounced his ‘kidnapping’. Days later, 20 soldiers in 15 vehicles detained Nestora along with 30 other people. She was taken to a high-security prison in Nayarit, and then to Tepic, where she has since been denied her rights consistently and kept in solitary confinement.
In past interviews, she was recorded saying that she feared the government more than the organised criminals – accusing its members of involvement in criminal activity and corruption. She also called for people to avoid consuming drugs because, in her opinion, as long as demand remains, the trade will continue – unstoppable.
Her continued detention suggests that she upset the wrong people.
Due to the amount of irregularities and human rights abuses regarding her detention, and those of her comrades, it is fundamental that these cases be reviewed. The campaign for their freedom must continue.
Sign the petition to free Nestora and the other members of Community Police Forces unfairly imprisoned by the government: https://secure.avaaz.org/es/petition/C_Enrique_Pena_Nieto_LIBERTAD_INMEDIATA_A_NESTORA_SALGADO/?cFNxdab
Translated and adapted from an article written by Marta Lamas in Proceso and reposted on February 24th, 2014 at http://pos.org.mx/?p=6807
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